HOWARD THE HALT
THE BANDED MEN
THE SAGA LIBRARY.
This Large Paper Edition is limited to One Hundred and
Twenty -five copies, all of which are numbered.
THE SAGA LIBRARY.
THE STORY OF HOWARD THE HALT.
THE STORY OF THE BANDED MEN.
THE STORY OF HEN THORIR.
DONE INTO ENGLISH
OUT OF THE ICELANDIC.
BERNARD QUARITCH, 15 PICCADILLY.
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AS the series of tales and histories to be
published under the title of the SAGA
LIBRARY is addressed to the whole reading
public, and not only to students of Scandinavian
history, folk-lore, and language, the translators
think it well to say a few words about Icelandic
literature in general before dealing with the three
stories contained in this volume.
Although Iceland is a barren northern island, of
savagely wild, though to the eye that sees, beauti-
ful scenery, the inhabitants of it neither are nor
were savages cut off from the spirit and energy
of the great progressive races. They are, rather,
a specially intellectual family of one of the most
active of those races, to whom fate, which has de-
prived them of so much, has allotted the honour-
able task of preserving the record of the thoughts,
the aspirations, and the imaginations of their earliest
ancestors : their language, which they have kept
scarcely altered since the thirteenth century, is
akin to our own. Their ancient laws, of which
they have full record, were nearly the same as
those under which the freemen of Kent and Wessex
lived, while the greatest of all Englishmen, Alfred,
was yet above ground.
Still more, while over the greater part of Europe
at least, all knowledge of their historical past has
faded from the memory of the people, and the last
vestiges of their pre-historical memories are rapidly
disappearing, in Iceland every homestead, one may
almost say every field, has its well-remembered
history, while the earlier folk-lore is embedded in
that history, and no peasant, however poor his sur-
roundings may be, is ignorant of the traditions of
his country, or dull to them ; so that a journey in
Iceland to the traveller read in its ancient litera-
ture is a continual illustration, freely and eagerly
offered, of the books which contain the intimate
history of its ancient folk.
Iceland has been peopled since the ninth century
of our era by men of the Gothic branch of the great
Teutonic race : the first settlers there were of the
best families of Norway, men of bold and indepen-
dent spirit, who could not brook what they deemed
the oppression of the early form of feudality forced
upon the free men of the tribes at the time when
Harold Hair- fair was winning his way to the sole
sovereignty of Norway.
Defeated in a great battle off the coast of Nor-
way, these men left their country with their families
and household gods, taking with them as a matter
of course, besides their religion, the legends, the
customary law, and the language of their race.
Those of them who made their way to Iceland
found an uninhabited country there, so that all these
ancestral possessions escaped the speedy oblitera-
tion which befell them in the hands of (we must
think) their less fortunate brethren who settled
themselves in countries (Normandy, for instance)
where they were but a handful amongst people of
a more developed civilization, who had gained
their position by passing through the mill of the
The race of which these warlike exiles formed a
specially noble part had an inborn genius for poetry
and the dramatic presentation of events ; and their
language, probably as a consequence, had great
capacities for the expression of action ; but these
essentials for the task above-mentioned were doubt-
less quickened amongst the settlers in Iceland by
the energy which the struggle for life in a rough
climate and barren land forced upon brave and
generous, if somewhat masterful men, and the long
rest of the northern winter gave them the oppor-
tunity of leisure for the development of their his-
Under these conditions it was but natural that
the freemen of Iceland should have retained the
memory of the mythology and hero-tales of the
Gothic tribes ; but, moreover, the poetic life and
instinct which made Iceland the treasure-house of
the mythology of the whole Teutonic race, did not
stop there. The dwellers in Iceland had still abun-
dant intercourse with the mother-country in various
ways, as also with other lands in the north of
Europe, including the British isles. There was
carrying of wares backward and forward ; and it
was a kind of custom for young men of the great
families to follow their fortunes and make a repu-
tation by blended huckstering and sea- roving about
the shores of the Baltic, and the British seas. The
Scandinavians established a semi-independent king-
dom in Northumbria ; names of English places and
words in our language still testify to their dealings
with our forefathers throughout the country. The
Orkneys and Shetlands, and the Faroes were settled
by them ; they established a Norse kingdom in Man,
the constitution of which, as far as local affairs go,
is still little altered. Dublin also was a Scandi-
navian kingdom, and they had other settlements
elsewhere in Erin. The Icelanders sailed west
and made settlements in Greenland, which still
retains the euphemistic name which, we are told,
the first settler gave it of set purpose. Thence
they stumbled on the coast of North America,
which they knew under the name of Vineland the
Good nearly five centuries before the voyage of
Columbus. They took warlike and literary ser-
vice, not only with the kings and earls of Scandi-
navian countries, or with the English kings, but
even with the Greek emperor at Constantinople,
where, with their kinsmen of Norway, they formed
the mass of the Varangian (say Vaering) guard,
which was the backbone of the sovereignty of the
Amidst this restless life, the deeds which they
did and witnessed, the histories and traditions which
they heard, cried on them for record, and not in
vain ; for the Icelanders became the historians of
the mainland of Scandinavia, which but for them
would have had no record of its early epoch.
But, furthermore, Iceland itself gave them abun-
dant materials for the exercise of their historical
faculty. Their fierce independence and their indivi-
duality of character, from which sprang so many
strange and stirring stories, they shared perhaps with
other folks living under early forms of society ; yet,
if they were not somewhat pre-eminent herein, their
case is a strong example of the advantage of not
" lacking a sacred poet."
Their customary law also, which (once more as
with other early peoples) made vengeance for in-
juries not a mere satisfaction of private passion,
but a public duty owing to the tribe or family by
no means to be neglected by a man of honour,
bred a plentiful crop of feuds and tragedies, which
such men could neither forget nor avoid recording.
Accordingly, most of these events have been re-
corded, and very many of these records have in one
form or other escaped the waste of time ; they have
come down to us told in abundant detail and in the
most dramatic manner ; and, as hinted above, are
to this day household words with the whole popu-
lation of the island.
The fact that the Icelandic historians and tale-
tellers were cut off from the influence of the older
literature of Europe, was, we think, a piece of good
luck to them rather than a misfortune. For the
result was that, when the oral traditions and his-
tories came to be written down, and had to receive
literary form, the writers had to create that form for
themselves, and thereby escaped the meshes of the
classical Latin pedantry which so grievously en-
cumbers the mediaeval literature of the rest of
Europe, even in early times a pedantry which
would be unendurable if it were not that the
mediaeval writers misconceived it, and made
something else of it than was originally in-
tended ; since they saw it through the medium
of feudal Christianity, and in this guise handed it
down to us.
With the Icelandic stories, on the other hand,
the life and feeling of the original traditions are
in the main preserved intact ; the literary style
which they have received does not encumber or
falsify them, but serves them as a vehicle of ex-
pression, so that they have become capable of being
understood outside the narrow limits of the family
or district where the events told of happened, or
were imagined to have happened. The literature
in which they are enshrined has taken them out of
the category of mere parish records, and made them
valuable to the world at large. For not only is the
style of the ancient Icelandic literature a fitting
vehicle for the still more ancient traditions, but it
is in itself most excellent. It may be said, indeed,
that the imagined stories of the lives of a few
obscure chieftains of the furthest North are of little
importance ; yet, after all, the impression that
dramatic events make upon us is not measured by
the mere count of heads of those who took part in
them. /, thou, and the other one, with some small
sympathetic audience to act before, are enough to
make a drama, as Greek tragedy knew. Only the
actors must be alive, and convince us (as a recent
critic says) that they are so. For this quality the
Icelandic Sagas are super-eminent ; granted the de-
sirability of telling what they tell, the method of
telling it is the best possible. Realism is the one
rule of the Saga-man : no detail is spared in im-
pressing the reader with a sense of the reality of
the event ; but no word is wasted in the process of
giving the detail. There is nothing didactic and
nothing rhetorical in these stories ; the reader is
left to make his own commentary on the events,
and to divine the motives and feelings of the actors
in them without any help from the tale-teller. In
short, the simplest and purest form of epical narra-
tion is the style of these works.
Icelandic original mediaeval literature may be
divided by its subjects much as follows :
i st. Mythology, as set forth chiefly in the two
Eddas, the Poetic and the Prose Edda, though
much information on the subject is scattered up and
down other works.
2nd. Romances founded on the mythology ; of
these the Volsunga Saga is the most striking
3rd. The histories of events foreign to Iceland,
the chief work of which is the collection of " King-
Stories," familiarly called the Heimskringla.
4th. The histories of Icelandic worthies, their
families, feuds, etc. These form the great mass of
the literature, and are in some respects the most
important, as being most characteristic and un-
exampled. The present volume offers three note-
worthy examples of these stories, and our Library
will include all the most important of them.
5th. Mere fictions which, on account of their
confessedly unhistorical character, are looked upon
with little favour by the Icelanders themselves.
It is a matter of course that they are of later date
than the historical tales. It must, however, be said
of some of them (as notably the story of Viglund the
Fair, included in the Saga Library), that they are of
high literary merit.
There are other important works that do not
come within the scope of the Saga Library ; of
these are the Sturlunga Saga, the Bishops' Sagas,
the Annals, religious poems like the Lilja, 1 codes
of law like Gragas, and translations of mediaeval
romances ; some of which latter are of much inte-
rest in elucidating the literary history of these
We now proceed to a few explanations on the
history of the three Sagas in this volume, and first
of the Story of Howard the Halt.
THE SAGA OF HOWARD THE HALT is an old
favourite in Iceland, and was well known even to
the authors of Landnamabok, 2 as our references
to that work will show. It rests throughout on an
historical basis. But it has suffered greatly in his-
torical accuracy during the course of transmission,
from the tellers' want of familiarity both with the
topographical features of scenes where the events
1 Translated by Eirfkr Magnusson. London, 1870.
a The book of land-takings or settlings, originally written
by Ari the Learned and Kolskegg the Learned, which, together
with the Islendingabdk, forms the earliest authoritative historical
Icelandic record, and dates from the twelfth century.
took place out of which the saga grew, and with
the genealogical lore of the West-country. The
reason is obvious. The hero moved immediately
after his victory over his enemies far away to the
North-country, and settled in Svarfadardale on the
northern side of Eyiafiord, towards the mouth of it,
and dying not long afterwards, the memory of his
life's deeds had to be cultivated, as it were, in a
foreign soil. No doubt the saga, as first told by
Thorhall, Howard's kinsman, was correct enough
in its details. But passing into oral tradition so
far away from the scenes where it had been enacted,
the tellers of it had no opportunity of correcting
themselves by personal observation of its locality,
and rarely, if ever, met with those who were able
authoritatively to check historical or topographical
mistakes. Hence its many inaccuracies.
The Landnamabok, pp. 145-7, has preserved a
fragment of the saga in its older and purer state,
and, as it is a very important record, we insert it
" Liot the Sage dwelt at Ingialdsand; he was
the son of Thorgrim the son of Hardref, but his
mother was Rannveig, daughter of Earl Griotgarth
(Stonewall). Thorgrim Gagar (Dog) was the son
of Liot. Halldis, the sister of Liot, was married
to Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, but Ospak Osvifson
seized (took away from home) another sister of
Liot, called Asdis, for which case Liot had the law
of Ospak, and got him fined. The son of Ospak
and Asdis was called Wolf, whom Liot brought up.
Grim Kogr (Bantling) dwelt at Brent ; his sons
were Sigurd and Thorkel, little men and small.
Thorarin was the name of a foster-son of Liot.
Liot bought slaughtered meat from Grim for twenty
hundreds (of ells), and paid him with the use of a
brook that flowed between their lands, which was
called Mischief. Grim turned it into his meadow
and dug (at the same time) the land of Liot, for
which he held Grim guilty of trespass, and so they
had but few dealings together. Liot took in a
Norwegian who had come out to Vadil, and he fell
in love with Asdis. Guest Oddleifsson came to Liot,
bidden to an autumn feast. Then there came Egil
the son of Valastein, and prayed Guest for a good
counsel that his father might be relieved from the
agony of death which he bore for his son Ogmund.
Guest then composed the beginning of Ogmund's
drapa. Liot asked Guest what sort of a man Thor-
grim Gagar would turn out. Guest said his foster-
son Thorarin would be the more renowned of the
two, but bade Thorarin take heed lest the hair that
lay on his tongue should twine around his head.
Herein Liot deemed himself slighted, and asked
the next morning what lay in store for Thorgrim.
Guest said that Wolf, his sister's son, would be the
more famed of the two. Then was Liot wroth,
yet rode with Guest to see him off, and asked :
' What will be the cause of my death ? ' Guest
said he might not see his fate, but bade him see
that he stood well with his neighbours. Asked
Liot : ' What ? will the earth-lice, the sons of Grim
Kogr (Bantling), be my bane then ? ' ' Hard bites
a hungry louse,' quoth Guest. ' Where will that
be ? ' quoth Liot. ' Hard by,' said Guest. The
Norwegian rode with Guest up on to the heath,
and steadied Guest in his saddle when his horse
stumbled under him. Then said Guest : ' Good-
hap sought thee now, soon another will ; take heed
lest it be an unhap to thee.' The Norwegian
found a buried treasure as he fared back home, and
took to himself twenty pennies thereof, hoping that
he might find the rest later, but when he sought
therefor he found it not ; but Liot caught him while
he was a-digging for it, and fined him in three hun-
dreds for every penny. That autumn was slain
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson. In the spring Liot sat
watching his slaves from a certain hill-rise ; he had
on him a cloak the hood of which was laced round
his neck, and on which there was only one sleeve.
The sons of Bantling rushed upon the hill and
hewed at him both at once, whereupon Thorkel
bundled the hood over his head. Liot bade them
behave in a neighbourly manner, and they trundled
off the hill unto the road which Guest had ridden.
There was the death of Liot. The sons of Grim
went to Howard the Halt. Eyolf the Gray and
Steingrim his son gave them all quarters."
Here Liot, the sage of Ingialdsand, one of the
noblest men of the land in his time, takes in real
history the place of the fictitious Holmgang Liot
of Redsand of our saga ; while equally correctly
the part given to Steinthor of Ere in the saga is
here ascribed to Eyolf the Gray of Otterdale and
to his son Steingrim, who must have had the most
to do with helping Howard in his straits, as by
that time Eyolf his father was very far advanced
in years, as we shall see presently, when we come
to consider the chronology of Howard's saga.
Steinthor of Ere, living far away on the southern
shore of Broadbay, and bearing no sway among
the men of Codfirth-Thing ( Icefirth), could have had
nothing to do with the sheltering of Howard after
the slaughter of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson.
Now, in order to gain a clear idea of the locality
of Howard's saga, the simplest way is to enumerate
the landnam or first settlements round the Icefirth
basin, beginning with the westernmost on the
I. The land-take or settlement of Eyvind Knee.
" Eyvind Knee went from Agdir to Iceland
and with him his wife Thurid Bedsow.
They settled Swanfirth and Seydisfirth and
dwelt there. A son of theirs was Thorleif
and another Valbrand, the father of Hall-
grim and Gunnar and Biargey the wife of
Howard the Halt, whose son was Olaf."
(Landnamabok, p. 148.)
II. Next to this, east of it, was the settlement
of Vebiorn Sygnakappi between Horsefirth and
Skatefirth. With this our saga has nothing to do.
III. The settlement of the sons of Gunnbiorn
(next eastward of the preceding).
" Gunnstein and Halldor were hight two sons
of Gunnbiorn the son of Wolf the Crow,
from whom Gunnbiorn's Skerries are named ;
they settled Skatefirth and Bathdale and
Ogrwick all the way to Narrowbay. A son
of Halldor's was Bersi the father of Thor-
mod Coalbrowscald. 1 There in Bathdale
1 One of the heroes of the Foster-brothers' Saga ; slain by
the side of King Olaf the Saint at the fatal battle of Stikla-Stead.
dwelt afterwards Thorbiorn Thiodrekson,
who slew Olaf the son of Howard the Halt
and Biargey the daughter of Valbrand ;
whence arose the saga of the Icefirthers
and the slaughter of Thorbiorn." (Ldb.
IV. The settlement of Snaebiorn (next eastward
of the preceding).
" Snaebiorn, the son of Eyvind the Eastman,
brother to Helgi the Lean, settled the land
between Narrow-bay and Longdale-river
and dwelt in Waterfirth. His son was
Holmstein, the father of Snaebiorn Gait."
V. The settlement of Olaf Evenpate (Jafnakollr)
(continuation of preceding westward on the northern
shore of Icefirth).
" Olaf Evenpate settled the land from Long-
dale-river unto Sandere-river and dwelt in
Pleasuredale (Una'Ssdalr) ; he had for wife
Thora, daughter of Gunnstein ; their son
was Grimolf, who married Vedis, the sister
of Vebiorn." (Ldb. 155.)
The principal homestead in Bathdale is still
Bathstead, and the farm of Bluemere (now called
Blamyrar) is still standing. The saga is therefore
reliable in this respect. Howard thus dwelt within
the settlement which originally belonged to Gunn-
stein, Olaf Evenpate's father-in-law, and no doubt
still belonged to his descendants when Howard set
up house at Bluemere. But in his days a sudden
change came over the fortunes of Gunnstein's
Thorbiorn's grandfather, Sl^ttu-Biorn, a late
settler in Skagafiord, had, by the advice of his
father-in-law, Steinolf the Short, who had settled in
Saurby west away in the Dales, moved away from
Skagafiord, and set up house in Steinolfs close
neighbourhood. But his son Thiodrek " deemed
himself too narrow-landed in Saurby, so he betook
himself to Icefirth, and there befell the saga of
Thorbiorn and Howard the Halt" (Ldb. 126-7).
It deserves a passing notice that Thorbiorn was
among the highest descended men in Iceland of his
time ; the Landnamab6k (p. 195) gives the follow-
ing account of the pedigree : " Gorm hight an ex-
cellent duke in Sweden ; he was married to Thora,
the daughter of King Eric of Upsala ; their son was
hight Thorgils; he was married to Elin (Helen),
the daughter of Burislav, King of Gardar l in the
East, and of Ingigerd, the sister of Dagstygg (Day-
shy), King of the Giants. Their sons were Her-
grim and Herfinn, who married Halla, the daughter
of Hedin and Arndis, Hedin's daughter. Groawas
the daughter of Herfin and Halla ; she was married
to Hroar, and their son was Slettu-Biorn." The
mention here made of Scandinavian connections
with Russia (Gardar) refers to a time at least sixty
years anterior to the first intercourse between the
two races known to Nestor (A.D. 859).
In what manner Thiodrek got possession of
lands and chieftainship within the settlement of
Gunnstein's family, whether by law or violence, we
know not, nor how long he himself enjoyed the
1 The north of Russia.
dignity and influence he acquired by it. But it is
certain that the family even long after his son's
death was the mightiest in Icefirth. The peace
which Howard had enjoyed before Thorbiorn came
into the story was over apparently as soon as Thor-
biorn saw that Olaf his son was likely to rival him
as a favourite of the people and a man of personal
prowess. So Howard, in order to get out of too
hot a corner, takes counsel with his son, and pro-
poses to flit across the bay and set up a new home
there, " for then we are nearer to our kinsmen and
friends." So they moved across, and Howard built
for himself a new abode and called it Howard-
At the present day people point out on the
northern shore of Icefirth the ruins of a long de-
serted farm called " Howardstead." Its site is
but a few hundred " fathoms " west of the still
occupied farmhouse of Myri 1 (the DyrSilmyrr of
Fostbrae'Srasaga, ch. v.), which again stands only
a few miles west from Unaftsdalr, Pleasuredale, the
first settler's home and the chief farmhouse about
this coast still. All these sites are well within the
land-take of the first settler, and the accuracy of the
saga in this respect cannot be impugned.
Considering the state of society in Howard's
days, the reason given in the saga for his resolve
to move away from Thorbiorn's persecutions is
obviously the only true one. But then who were
these kinsmen among whom he sought peace and
rest ? They must have been the descendants of
1 See K. Kalund's monumental work, Bidragtil en historisk-
topografisk beskrivelse af Island, i. 606.
Olaf Evenpate. They were not Biargey's kinsfolk,
for among them the name of Olaf does not appear ;
besides, they had their possessions about Swanfirth
and Seydisfirth, west away on the southern side of
the bay. They were obviously of Howard's own
kindred, whose son was called Olaf, probably after
his paternal grandfather, according to general cus-
tom in all ages among the Icelanders ; and it can
hardly be an accident that among the settlers of
Icefirth and their descendants for three generations
the name should be borne only by these two per-
sons. Why such a wonderfully detailed genea-
logical record as the Landndmabok should know
nothing about Howard's family connections, while
it enumerates Biargey's forefathers, is probably to
be explained by the fact that his folk had come
down in the world by the time he returned from
his long viking service abroad, a man maimed for
life. Besides this, the great interest felt in the fate
of a brutally treated old and helpless man naturally
served to draw attention to him alone as a hero of
a miraculous adventure.
Howard's final removal to Svarfadardale is left
unexplained in the saga. But it could only have
meant quest for a peaceful retreat among kinsmen
or friends. We have seen that Snsebiorn, Olaf
Evenpate's nearest neighbour of the land-settlers,
was brother to Helgi the Lean, who settled the
wholeof Eyiafiord, and within whose dominion Svar-
fadardale lay. Possibly this family connection had
something to do with Howard's emigration from
the west. But perhaps a stronger reason still drew
him to the north. The name of Howard is a very
rare one in Iceland and, with the exception of the
Icefirther, confined to persons in the North-country
only. It is worth noticing that some time during
the first half of the tenth century, within which
nearly the whole of Howard the Halt's lifetime
falls, there lived in the very valley in which he
finally settled, a franklin who also bore the name
of Howard. Very likely, therefore, the hero of our
saga betook himself to his own kindred when he
went to the north.
The fragment of Howard's saga which we have
already given before out of the Landnamab6k
renders good service for ascertaining the chrono-
logy of the saga, or the date of the death of Olaf
Howardson. Wolf the Marshal, son of Ospak the
son of Osvif, was a faithful and trusted soldier and
councillor of King Harold HarSra/Si, of Stamford-
bridge fame. Wolf died in the spring of the year
in the autumn of which (Sept. 25th) Harold met
his death. He could not have been a very old
man then, as only four years before (1062), at the
battle on the river Nizi in Halland, against King
Svein Ulfson of Denmark, he was in command of
one of King Harold's war-galleys. At the utmost
he would have been a man of seventy when he
died, born then A.D. 996. We know from the
Laxdale Saga that he must have been born before
1 002, the year when his father, together with his
other brothers, was banished the country for the
slaughter of Kiartan Olafsson ; for none of them
ever returned to Iceland again. Guest's visit to
Liot the Sage must have taken place after the
banishment of Ospak ; for no doubt it was in con-
sequence of the breaking up of his son-in-law's
house that Liot took his grandson in. This visit
happened the same autumn that Thorbiorn was
slain. From the Landnama fragment one is led
to suppose that the boy Wolf was well grown, say
six or seven years, when Liot asked his sage
friend about the fate of his own son. Still further,
we must note that Ari the Learned, who was the
fifth in direct descent from Eyolf the Gray, states
in his Islendingab6k that he was baptized in his
old age when Christianity was brought to Iceland
(A.D. 1000). From the Landnama fragment it is
evident that Steingrim is mentioned as Howard's
active helper under the authority of the father's
chiefship. Taking all these things into considera-
tion, as Vigfusson has done in his Timatal,
there seems but little doubt that he must be very
near the mark in placing Guest's visit and Thor-
biorn's death in A.D. 1003 the death of Olaf con-
sequently, which, according to the saga, happened
three times twelve months before, in A.D. 1001.
Being eighteen years of age when he died, he was
then born in 983. The age of Biargey, third in
descent from a settler, does not seem neces-
sarily to throw any obstacle in the way of this
The verses of Howard's saga have come down
to us in a most deplorably mangled state ; yet evi-
dently they belong to the classical type of the
poetry of Iceland. A not unsuccessful attempt at
restoring them was undertaken by the late Gisli
Brynjolfsson in 1860, and this restoration we have
for the most part followed in the translation. The
Snorra Edda, Skaldskaparmal (i. 232), has pre-
served one semistrophe by Howard the Halt,
descriptive of an impending fight with enemies,
which seems to have belonged to the cyclus of
Howard verses inserted in the saga, the buoyant
hope of victory being expressed in the same vein
as in the saga verses. For the sake of complete-
ness we add here a literal translation of this frag-
" Above the paths of those who wield
The sea-horse and the battle-shield,
Lo, eagles fly ! meseems the lord
Of hanged men bids them to his board."
Of the literary qualities of the Howard story we
need not say much : it is certainly one of the very
best of the shorter sagas, and is worthy to be put
by the side of the inimitable Gunnlaug story for its
dramatic force and directness of narration ; in con-
sequence, probably, of its having been re-made in
later times, it is more of a story and less of a
chronicle than many of the sagas ; and the subject-
matter of it, the triumph of an old and seemingly
worn-out man over his powerful enemies, has some-
thing peculiarly interesting in it, and is fresh in
these days, when the fortune of a young couple in
love with each other is, in spite of all disguises,
almost the invariable theme of a tale.
THE STORY OF THE BANDED MEN (Banda-
manna Saga) is the latest of the independent Ice-
landic sagas, those, namely, that do not form mere
episodes of longer sagas. It has come down to us
in two recensions, one evidently written in the
north, referring to Ufeig as living at Reeks west-
away in Midfirth, the other in the west or the south
of Iceland, stating in the same passage that Ufeig
dwelt north-away in Midfirth. The northern text
is preserved in the Arnamagnsean vellum, 132 fol.,
which palaeographers variously refer to the end of
the thirteenth down to the middle of the fourteenth
century, and was edited by H. Fridriksson at
Copenhagen in 1850. The western text is con-
tained in 2845, 4to., in the Old Collection of the
Royal Library at Copenhagen, dating from the
beginning of the fifteenth century, and was edited
by Gustav J. Chr. Cederschiold, Lund, 1874. On
the ground that the text of Cod. Arnam. is in cer-
tain places more expanded than that of the
Regius, the opinion has prevailed of late that it
was a vitiated transcript or copy of the text of the
latter. But this, we take it, is not the case. Both
are independent descendants of a common original,
and that original was of northern, not of western
or southern authorship. This original is now, no
doubt with later additions and faults, represented
by the Cod. Arnam. But Cod. Reg. represents an
early western departure from this original, whether
abbreviated or prior to the additions which Cod.
Arnam. contains, we are not prepared to say.
A test point in this respect is the following pas-
sage in ch. i. :
Arnam. 132. Regius.
Ufeigr svarar: "Ekki mun "ofeigr suarar ok kuez ecki
ek minnka tillog vift fik or jwf mundu micla til laugu ueita
sem pii hefir til unnit ; mun ek honum af Jmi er hann hafdi til
ok Jw naest gora, ok muntu fa unnet ok ]?ui nsest mundi hann
vita hvert fullting J>er er at uita hue micill fulltingr honum
jw." er at Jnii."
Ufeig answers : " I will not Ofeig answers and says he
lay down for thee less than would not grant him much
thou deservest ; and I will go contribution from what he had
as close as I can to that, and deserved, and next to that he
then thou wilt know what avail would know what great avail
it will be to thee." would be to him therein.
Here it is evident that the Arnam. text, with the
fine irony and close reasoning of Ufeig, preserves
the true original, but Regius a scribe's paraphrase,
unskilful and halting in sense, because he did not
understand his original. He misreads "minnka,"
which his MS. probably had in the form of " mica,"
and makes of it "micla," which necessitated changing
the sentence by the insertion of the verb "veita,"and
the latter part of the passage he misunderstands
altogether by taking "naest" in a temporal sense, not
seeing that the sense was : " mun ek gora jm ncest
sem \ li hefir til unnit " = my award shall be closely
measured to thy deserts.
We have therefore not hesitated to base our
translation on the Arnamagnaean text in preference
to the other.
The events related in the saga refer to the middle
of the eleventh century. Odd Ufeigsson is well
known to the author of Morkinskinna, probably
a twelfth century recorder of Norwegian history,
who has known tales about Odd that were for-
gotten or unknown to the author of the Banded
Men's story, who was probably a century later. The
extract from the Morkinskinna which we insert
in the appendix shows that Odd, as a young and
enterprising chapman, was cotemporary with King
Harold Sigurdson HarSraSi, who fell at Stamford-
bridge in England, and who ruled in Norway from
1046-1066. Thorstein, Odd's friend, pleads with
the king on behalf of him as Harold's "former
friend," and we know from the j?attr of Heming
Aslakson (Flatey book, iii. 386, &c.), that Odd,
together with many other Icelanders, was one of
King Harold's men (bodyguard). That this may
perfectly well have been, and in all probability was,
the fact, is not gainsaid by the other undoubted
fact, that this J?attr is but a legend so far as the
exploits it recounts are concerned. But there is
this element of history about it, that the actors are
known to be historical persons living at one and
the same time in company with each other. The
Hemings J?attr is written expressly for the purpose
of foisting upon Harold and his court the older
legend of Palnatoki, who had to shoot an apple off
a beloved son's head at a long range at the bidding
of a cruel tyrant for such is the Harold of this
Our saga refers, ch. ix., to Skeggbroddi as one
who had been one of King Harold's men, and made
much of by him. There is nothing known else-
where about this. But the question put by Ufeig,
true to life as it is, shows that the matter was gene-
rally talked of among people, and Skeggbroddi's
answer, equally true to life, that is to say, to Harold's
peculiar character, points to Ufeig's question hav-
ing been quite pertinent to the subject, that Skegg-
broddi had been with King Harold at some time
during his reign.
One of the Banded Men, and evidently he for
whom old Ufeig, despite his way of framing his
speech, had the greatest respect, was Gellir Thor-
kelson by a scribal mistake called Thordson in
our text the well-known grandfather of Ari the
Learned. He died in advanced age on a pilgrim-
age to Rome, in Roskilde, in Denmark, A.D. 1073.
Now when old Ufeig in chapter ix. of our story is
talking to Gellir about his as yet unmarried
daughters, Gellir could have been not older than
of middle age, which accords well with the birth of
the grandson, Ari, in 1067. If Gellir's age was
about that of the century he lived in, then he would
have marriageable daughters about 1050. The
probable ages of all the other Banded Men agree
well with this having been about the date of the
greatest secret legal conspiracy known in the time
of the Icelandic Commonwealth.
The story of the legal process is, of course,
dramatic rather than historical. The core of the
tale, the process itself, is evidently aimed at the
administration of justice in Iceland at the time : a
demonstration against judicial red-tape which pre-
serves the husk, the formality, of the law, while the
kernel, substance, equity, is left to take care of it-
self as best it may.
The literary quality of the story is high ; the
characters are steadily held to all through; the
the most learned interpreter living of the laws of
Iceland, seems to have conclusively proved in his
masterly treatise, " Om de islandske Love i Fri-
statstiden " (Aarboger for nordisk Oldkyndighed,
1873, pp. 73-76), that this theory is not tenable.
Indeed, if this had been the intention of the law, it
must be acknowledged that the provision, that
only one-sixth, instead of two-thirds, of the court
could form a legal quorum, would be at war with
the rules of " challenge " in Gragas.
In the sagas these courts are frequently named
after the community inhabiting the largest country-
sides of the quarter, and exercising the greatest
influence on public matters, both at home and at
the Althing : " Rangseingadomr " (South Quarter
Court), " BreidfirSingadomr " (WestQ. C), " EyfirS-
ingadomr" (North Q-C.^'AustfirSingadomr" (East
Q. C.), alone bearing invariably the name of its
own quarter. Each of these courts was the proper
forum into which to bring cases in which any in-
habitant of the quarter for which the court was
nominated was engaged as a defendant. The ques-
tion whether a defendant belonged to this quarter
or that was all-important, inasmuch as bringing a
lawsuit into the wrong court might of itself suffice
for a dismissal of the case. In this respect it was
not enough to know where a person was domiciled ;
for to have one's hearth and home within a certain
quarter did not prove that the owner or occupier
belonged to that particular quarter in the sense
required in pleadings at the quarter courts. But
" fingfesti," or allegiance to a particular Go^i, decided
to which quarter the defendant belonged, and into
which quarter court, consequently, his case should
be brought. Hence the first thing for the plaintiff
to do on commencing proceedings at these courts
was to ascertain the defendant's J?ingfesti ; for
though a well-known plaintiff, for instance, was
domiciled in the east quarter, he might be a liege-
man of a GoSi in the west, and must therefore
be sued before the west quarter court. Even in
the midst of the law proceedings against Flosi of
Swinefell in the east quarter for the burning of Nial,
he (Flosi), himself a Gofti, resigned his GoftorS
to another man, and then took liege service with
Askel the Go8i of Reekdale in the north quarter, in
order to hoodwink the plaintiffs (Niala, ch. 141,
143). Judgment by these courts was valid only
on condition that all the judges were unanimous,
otherwise the case came to nought. And this rule
was the cause why, after forty years, during which
time it had been the source of much inconvenience
and discontent, which at last threatened to super-
sede law by " point and edge," the Fifth Court,
" fimtardomr," was set up, by the advice of Nial, in
A.D. 1004. The unworthy motives ascribed to
Nial for bringing about this pressing reform had
undoubtedly nothing to do with it. The Gragas
thus defines the constitution of this court : " We
shall have a Fifth Court, and it shall be called
' fimtardomr.' One man shall be nominated into
that court for every one of the ancient Go'Sor'S,
nine men from each quarter. Those GoSar that
have the new Go'Sor'S shall nominate for the court
one of the ' douzaines ' (one of the four dozen
members of it). Then the ' douzaines ' will be four,
of the Althing, and on returning from it to their
various Go'Sor'S, had to hold those route-assemblies,
/ef&ir, leets, among their liegemen, at which they
had to publish whatever measures of general or
local interest had been passed by the "logretta,"
and the calendar for the ensuing year as framed
by the speaker-at-law. One of the functions of the
GoSi was to settle the prices at which inland pro-
duce should not only change hands in the country
itself, but be sold to chapmen from abroad, whose
foreign imports, as a sovereign ruler, after Nor-
wegian precedent, he also, no doubt with the
advice of " the best men," took upon himself to ap-
praise, which regulation of prices had the force of
sovereign law for the sale of all the merchants'
goods. Until his " price list was out," and until the
Gofti himself had made the purchases he needed,
no dealings might be had with the merchant, no
goods be bought from him at any other than the
fixed prices. As in the case of Odd-a-Tongue, the
exercise of this prerogative by the Icelandic Goftar
was generally very unpopular, as in the nature of
the thing it could not fail to be, with foreign mer-
chants ; and at last in the thirteenth century it led to
such deplorable conflicts with the Norwegians as
had nearly brought about an armed invasion from
Norway, and did in reality furnish the King of
Norway with one of the many pretexts on which
he seized for interfering in the internal affairs of
Iceland preparatory to its subjection in 1262.
It is a curious thing that the code of the com-
monwealth, the Gragas, does not seem to know of
this prerogative as vested in the Go^i, but refers
to the matter in the following terms : "It is pro-
vided in our laws that people may not buy eastern
(Norwegian) wares at a higher price from the
ships of ocean-going traders than those three men
ordain who are appointed for that purpose within
every district" (I. b. 72). The probable explana-
tion is that this is a late addition to the code, as
V. Finsen supposes. At any rate the Go^ar
seem to have treated it as not derogatory to
their traditional right, or at least to have abided
by it as occasion served, and as it suited their
(2.) The burning of Blundketil, which took
place A.D. 964 or 965 the date is not in dispute,
so we need go into no chronological argument to
show on what evidence it rests was in its conse-
quences by far the most significant event in the
history of Iceland during the tenth century. Ac-
cording to the account of Ari the Learned, it was
the immediate cause of a change being introduced
by Thord the Yeller, by which the system of govern-
ment was finally settled, A.D. 965.
According to the saga the burning took place
late in winter, apparently in the month of Goi =
March, or very early in spring, while pasture was
as yet scarce, and stalling of live-stock necessary.
This agrees well with the time required by the
outraged party for making all their preparations
for the lawsuit, which had to come before the var-
j?ing, or spring-mote, spring-court, at Thingness,
which, as all spring-motes throughout the country,
met at its earliest on the ythof May (Grag. I. a. 96).
Thord the Yeller, who became chief plaintiff in the
suit, was repelled by force of arms by Odd-a-Tongue,
who had many and mighty alliances throughout
Burgfirth ; and so violence and brute force defeated
the ends of justice in a peculiarly just cause.
In his Islendingabok, ch. v., Ari the Learned
gives the following account of the event : " A
great contest at law arose between Thord Yeller,
the son of Olaf Feilan out of Broadfirth, and Odd,
the one who was called Tongue-Odd ; he was of
Burgfirth. Thorvald, his son, together with Hen-
Thorir of Ornolfsdale, took part in the burning
of Thorkel, the son of Blund-Ketil. But Thord
Yeller was the chief to prosecute the suit, because
that Herstein, the son of Thorkel Blund-Ketil's
son, had for wife Thorunn, his sister's daughter.
She was the daughter of Helga and of Gunnar,
and was sister to Jofrid, whom Thorstein Egilsson
had to wife. They were prosecuted at that Thing
which was in Burgfirth at the place called Thing-
ness. It was law then that blood-suits should be
prosecuted at the Thing which was nearest to the
field of the manslaughter. But they fought there,
and the Thing might not be held therefore according
to law. So the case went to the Althing, and
there they fought again, and 1 men fell from the
band of Odd, and withal Hen-Thorir was declared
guilty, and was slain afterwards, together with
certain others who took part in the burning.
"Then Thord Yeller gave forth a speech from the
Rock of Laws as to how ill it answered for men to
have to go into strange Things wherein to prose-
cute suits for manslaughters or for other grievances ;
and he set forth what trouble it had cost him or
ever he might bring this case to law, and said that
various troubles would grow up if this were not
"Then was the land divided into quarters, fellow-
thingmen having one court of law in common ;
out- taken the Northlanders' quarter, wherein there
were four Things, because they (of the North) would
agree to nought else : those north of Eyiafiord being
unwilling to have to go to a Thing there, those west
of Skagafirth likewise to go thither. But for all
that the naming of judges from their quarter, and
appointments to the logretta, should be the same
from this quarter as from any of the others. After
this the Quarter- things were set up. In this manner
Wolfhedin Gunnarson, the speaker-at-law, told us
Evidently Wolfhedin told the story of this re-
markable reform as it was remembered by the
speakers-at-law, who of all men in the country must
have been the best informed about it.
Leaving out of consideration the Quarter-things,
about which next to nothing is known, and which
V. Finsen thinks may or may not have ever come
into practical existence, we have to show
1. How the Quarter and Thing division was
2. How on this division depended the Quarter
3. Likewise the constitution of the Logretta.
The country was divided into quarters, called
A. Southlanders' quarter (Sunnlendingafjor'S-
B. Westfirthers' quarter (Vestfir'SingafjorSungr).
c. Northlanders' quarter (NorSlendingafjor'S-
D. Eastfirthers' quarter (Austfir ; Singafj6r : Sungr).
Each of these quarters again was divided into
" Things," or jurisdictions, as follows :
Quarter A contained
1. Rangar- thing.
7. Hunavatns- thing.
8. Hegran ess-thing.
12. SuSrmula- thing.
Everyone of these Things was again divided into
three GoSorS, each presided over by a GoSi ; so
that altogether there were thirty-nine Go'Sar in the
land. Originally, and until the introduction of this
reform, there were only thirty-six Go^ar in all, and
only twelve Things in the island. These thirty-six
Go'SorS were " full and ancient " (full oc forn), and
then, as the Gragds says, were the Things un-cut
From what has been said already, it will be seen
that the Icelandic word " J?ing," in its constitutional
application, has really a threefold sense : i, a
mote, meeting, an assembly, a parliament gathered
together for the discussion of public affairs and for
judicial business ; 2, the place at which such a
mote is held (cf. Thingness-thing) ; 3, the com-
munity and country-sides to which the jurisdiction
of such a mote extended.
As we have seen already, there existed, before
the introduction of Thord Yeller's reform-law,
local assemblies at which judicial and other business
was transacted, the so-called varying, spring-motes,
spring-courts. Probably after this reform was
passed they remained much in the same state as
they were before. Here was the judicial forum in
the first instance for the fellow-thingmen who
formed the community, Thing, of which the vdr-f>ing
was the central court. It was regulated and super-
intended by the three Goftar of the Thing. It
fell into two divisions : soknar-J?ing, or lawsuit
division, court of law; and skulda-Jnng, debt divi-
sion, which was competent to deal with matters re-
lating to debts and public terms for payments, rents,
&c., falling due. The law court proper consisted
of thirty-six judges, twelve for each of the three
Go'SoriSof the Thing, nominated respectively by the
three Go'Sar. It was left an optional matter, after
the establishment of the quarter courts at the Al-
thing, whether a case should go before this local
court of justice, or it should be passed by and the
case go direct to the Althing.
The trouble to which these local Things obviously
would be liable to give rise, in the unreformed state
of the constitution, was this, that when the matter
in dispute lay between litigants of two separate
Things, the outsider was always bound to be at the
same time the plaintiff, the court being the defen-
dant's legal forum, according to the law provision
stated by Ari : " It was law then that blood-suits "
and naturally other criminal cases as well
" should be prosecuted at the Thing which was
nearest to the field of the manslaughter" or field of
action. Here clearly all the advantage was on
the side of the defendant, whose family relations,
friendships, and alliances by affinity naturally would
be greatest within his own district, Thing. The
outsider had to depend entirely on his personal in-
fluence in collecting and leading into a strange
country such forces as might be likely to ensure ne-
cessary respect. In failing to do so he was certain
to fare as did Thord the Yeller at Thingness-
thing, and justice was left at the mercy of the
sword. This state of things therefore meant a
standing appeal from law to violence.
The remedy proposed was the establishment of
the Quarter Courts at the Althing, one court of law
for each of the quarters of the land a wisely con-
ceived measure under the existing circumstances,
since there alliances could be formed on the merits
of a case rather than by local bias.
These courts were nominated for each yearly
session of the Althing by the Goftar out of their
own thingmen (liegemen, clients). The nomination
is thus regulated in the Gragas : "It is provided
in our law, that we shall have four Quarter Courts,
fj6r i o 1 ungs-d6ma. Every GoSi who has a full and
ancient Go'Sor'S shall name one man (judge) into
court, those being full and ancient Go'Sor'S which
were then, when there were three Things in
every quarter and three Goftar in every Thing "
(I. a. 38). By the wording of the law then, since
the nominators were the three Goftar of every
Thing, as the Things stood before the North
quarter compromise (see above), and since there
were three Things in each quarter and no more to
which the right of nomination was given, and since
each Go^i had to nominate one man into court, it
would seem evident that each quarter court con-
sisted of nine judges. Of these nine judges it was
provided again that six should be sufficient to form
a legal quorum (" withal their judgment is then as
valid as if they had all passed it" Grag. I. a. 74).
Some critics, notably the great scholar, K. Maurer, 1
are of opinion that the judges nominated to each of
these courts must, as in the case of the spring
courts, have amounted in number to thirty-six, the
mode of nomination being that everyone of the
thirty-six Go'Sar appointed one judge for every
quarter court, or four judges each. But V. Finsen,
1 On the subject see K. Maurer's admirable treatises : Ent-
stehung des islandischen Staats und seiner Verfassung, Miin-
chen, 1852, pp. 177-78, and Quellenzeugnisse iiber das erste
Landrecht und iiber die Ordnung der Bezirksfassung des islan-
dischen Freistaates, in Abhandl. der bayer. Akad. der Wissen-
schaften, I. Classe, XII. Bd., 1869, I. Abtheilung, pp. 80-82.
the most learned interpreter living of the laws of
Iceland, seems to have conclusively proved in his
masterly treatise, " Om de islandske Love i Fri-
statstiden " (Aarboger for nordisk Oldkyndighed,
1873, pp. 73-76), that this theory is not tenable.
Indeed, if this had been the intention of the law, it
must be acknowledged that the provision, that
only one-sixth, instead of two-thirds, of the court
could form a legal quorum, would be at war with
the rules of " challenge " in Gragas.
In the sagas these courts are frequently named
after the community inhabiting the largest country-
sides of the quarter, and exercising the greatest
influence on public matters, both at home and at
the Althing : " Rangaeingadomr " (South Quarter
Court), " BreidfirSingadomr " (West Q. C), " EyfirS-
ingadomr" (North Q.C.),"AustnrSingad6mr" (East
Q. C.), alone bearing invariably the name of its
own quarter. Each of these courts was the proper
forum into which to bring cases in which any in-
habitant of the quarter for which the court was
nominated was engaged as a defendant. The ques-
tion whether a defendant belonged to this quarter
or that was all-important, inasmuch as bringing a
lawsuit into the wrong court might of itself suffice
for a dismissal of the case. In this respect it was
not enough to know where a person was domiciled ;
for to have one's hearth and home within a certain
quarter did not prove that the owner or occupier
belonged to that particular quarter in the sense
required in pleadings at the quarter courts. But
" J?ingfesti," or allegiance to a particular Go^i, decided
to which quarter the defendant belonged, and into
which quarter court, consequently, his case should
be brought. Hence the first thing for the plaintiff
to do on commencing proceedings at these courts
was to ascertain the defendant's J?ingfesti ; for
though a well-known plaintiff, for instance, was
domiciled in the east quarter, he might be a liege-
man of a Go'Si in the west, and must therefore
be sued before the west quarter court. Even in
the midst of the law proceedings against Flosi of
Swinefell in the east quarter for the burning of Nial,
he (Flosi), himself a Go'Si, resigned his Go'Sor'S
to another man, and then took liege service with
Askel the Go'Si of Reekdale in the north quarter, in
order to hoodwink the plaintiffs (Niala, ch. 141,
143). Judgment by these courts was valid only
on condition that all the judges were unanimous,
otherwise the case came to nought. And this rule
was the cause why, after forty years, during which
time it had been the source of much inconvenience
and discontent, which at last threatened to super-
sede law by " point and edge," the Fifth Court,
" fimtardomr," was set up, by the advice of Nial, in
A.D. 1004. The unworthy motives ascribed to
Nial for bringing about this pressing reform had
undoubtedly nothing to do with it. The Gragas
thus defines the constitution of this court : " We
shall have a Fifth Court, and it shall be called
' fimtardomr.' One man shall be nominated into
that court for every one of the ancient Go'Sor'S,
nine men from each quarter. Those Goftar that
have the new GoftorS shall nominate for the court
one of the ' douzaines ' (one of the four dozen
members of it). Then the ' douzaines ' will be four,
and there will be with them (the twelve elected
by the new Go'Sar) twelve men out of every
There were created twelve new GoSorS, in addi-
tion to the thirty-six full and ancient ones, ex-
pressly for the purpose of nominating twelve judges
for this court, so that the number might be forty-
eight. It simplified the problem of thirty-six elec-
tors having an equal share in nominating forty-
eight members. On the other hand, it was pro-
vided that each party to a lawsuit before this court
should be bound to challenge out of it six of its
judges, twelve altogether, and should either party
refrain from taking the advantage of this privilege,
it was the bounden duty of the other party to chal-
lenge out all twelve, for only thirty-six might law-
fully sit in judgment in the court. The suit for
the burning of Nial was lost by the plaintiffs for
disregarding this peremptory rule. Into this court
should be brought all cases on which the quarter
court judges disagreed, likewise such as related to
false verdicts and false witness, or perjury and
bribery. Here not unanimity, but majority of votes,
carried a lawful judgment.
From Ari's account of Thord Yeller's reform it
is clear that it did not only extend to the judicial, but
also to the legislative affairs of the land, especially
to the constitution of the Logretta (Law-righter) or
legislative body of the Althing. This is evident
from the device to which Thord resorted in order
to counteract the preponderance of votes which
would fall to the north quarter in consequence of
its counting twelve Goftar, or three beyond each of
the other quarters, a disproportion created by the
insistence of the Northlanders on this occasion to
have their quarter divided into four Things. This
disproportion was adjusted by the GoSar belong-
ing to the minority quarters (east, south, and
west) selecting one person from each Thing three,
therefore, from each quarter to have a seat in the
logretta with all the privileges of a Go'Si, so that, in
addition to the thirty-nine Go'Sar that formed the
nucleus or pith of the logretta, there came nine
elected men who brought the number of the pith
of the assembly up to forty-eight members, each of
whom bore the distinguishing title of Logrettu-
maSr. Each LogrettumaSr again had to provide
himself with two assessors or counsellors, and thus
the whole number of the legislative body amounted
to 3 x 48 = 144 members, to which number were
added three ex officio members the speaker, to
wit, and, after A.D. 1056 and 1 106 respectively, the
two bishops of Skalholt and Holar.
It was provided that the assembly should be
seated on three dais or benches surrounding the
logretta or hallow space within. These benches
were to give easy sitting space to four dozens of
men each, a provision which indicates that on each
set of benches were seated the representatives of
each respective quarter. Whether they were ar-
ranged in a square or a circle fashion does not
appear. On the middle bench sat the Logrettu-men
proper, behind and in front of each his two assessors
On the logretta devolved the important duty of
making laws for the whole land, framing new laws,
amending older enactments, and, in certain evidently
frequently recurring cases, deciding what should be
law when disputes arose between any parties pre-
sent at the Althing, without being litigants in a pend-
ing lawsuit before the courts, as to doubtful points
in law. On this interesting point the Gragas (I. a.
213) says : "Now there is a dispute between men
as to what is the law, then the vote of the logretta
may be taken, provided the copies of the code
(scrdr), do not decide the matter. But this shall
be done thus, that under witnesses at the Hill of
Laws all the Go^ar at the Althing and the speaker-
at-law shall be bidden to go to the Logretta and
take their seats, and decide this point of law even
as thenceforth it shall stand." That the enactments
of the logretta were carried by majority of votes,
not by unanimity, Finsen has conclusively proved.
In one respect there was an exception. The
speaker-at-law, who seems to have acted, at least
in certain cases, as chairman or president of the
logretta, must be elected unanimously ; failing this,
lots were cast as to which of the quarters the elec-
tion should fall, whereupon the representatives of
the quarter to which the lot fell elected him by
simple majority. His term of office was three years,
at the end of which he could be, and frequently was,
re-elected. His most important function, especially
while there was as yet no written law in the land,
was to recite to the assembled Althing the laws of
the country from the Hill of Laws, in the following
manner. The law of judicial procedure at the
Althing he had to recite every year, and with
such perfect accuracy that no one present should
be able to do it as well or better. The rehearsal
of the rest of the law was, under the same condi-
tion, spread over three years. If his knowledge of
the text of the law was at fault, he was bound to
confer with five experts, the day immediately pre-
ceding his recital, in order to ensure thorough
accuracy. All new enactments and amendments,
as well as decisions relating to dispensations, miti-
gations of penalties incurred, and the like, he had
to give out to the assembled multitude from the
Rock of Laws ; likewise whether the Althing
should meet before the time fixed by law ; 1 further,
he had to proclaim the calendar for the ensuing
year, especially in relation to the movable feasts.
All this he had to do towards the breaking up of
each session. Cf. Grag. La. 208 foil.
Such, briefly stated, are the broad outlines of
the constitution of the commonwealth of Iceland.
It may be said in passing that all this story
of the quarter courts and Thord the Yeller's
changes points to the fact that when the Go'Sar
first come before us, society in Iceland was in a
transition state between the condition of mere
personal relations of each member of the tribe to
1 Ari, referring to a law passed in 999, Isl. bok, ch. vii., says :
" Then it was proclaimed by law that men should then come
to the Althing when ten weeks of summer were spent, but up
to that time they came a week earlier." Summer, O.S., began
on the Thursday that fell on April 9-15, consequently the tenth
week of summer closed on the Wednesday that fell on June
17-23. Cf. Grag. I. a. 37 : "The fifth day of the week shall
be the first (day) of summer," and ib. 43: " All Go'Sar shall
come to the Thing the fifth day when ten weeks of summer are
spent before the sun sets on Thingvollr," i.e. on June 18-24.
each other, and that of property, or political rela-
tions. Thord the Yeller's reform, with its localiza-
tion of the Color's and Things, indicates the very
end of that transition, and the last step in the
transformation of the tribal priest-chief into the
foreman of landholders.
(3.) The "hallowing" of land by fire. In the
ninth chapter of our saga we read : " So Odd
rideth to a certain house that was not utterly
burned ; there he lays hold of a birch-rafter and
pulled it down from the house, and then rode with
the burning brand withershins round about the
house, and spake : ' Here take I land to myself, for
here I see no house inhabited.' '
There is frequent mention of this ancient custom
of taking possession of land, "hallowing the land
to one's self" by fire, during the period of the
settlement of Iceland. Thus the Landnamabok,
p. 276, says : " Those who came later out to Ice-
land deemed the others (the former settlers) had
taken too wide lands to themselves ; but King
Harold made them agree to this, that no one
should take more land to himself than what he
could carry fire across in one day, together with
his crew. They should make fires when the sun
was in the east ; other smokes were to be made,
so that each could have an inkling of the other ;
but the fires that were made in the east were to
burn unto nightfall ; then they should walk till the
sun was in the west, and make other fires there."
Of Helgi the Lean, a Christian settler from the
Hebrides, the same record relates, p. 207 : " Helgi
searched the whole settlement (hera'S) during the
summer, and made his own the whole of Eyiafiord
between Sigluness and Reynisness, and made a
large fire at every river-mouth, and thus hallowed
for himself the whole of the settlement."
Helgi's foster-brother, Saemund, we are told,
" went with fire, by old custom, and took for him-
self the land which is now called Saemundslith in
Skagafirth " (Vatnsdaela, ch. x., Landn., p. 189).
His grand- daughter, Hallbera,goes to Vfgaglum,
who was loth to leave the land he had been law-
fully forced to sell to her son Einar, and says :
" All hail, Glum, but here there is no abiding
longer for thee, for now I have brought fire unto
the land of Thvera (Thwart-riverstead), and I now
bid thee be off with all thy belongings, since the
land is hallowed to my son Einar" (Gliima, ch.
Of Jorund the Go'Si, a settler of Rangdrvellir,
the Landnama, p. 284, relates : " A corner of land
lay unclaimed to the east of the Fleet (Markfleet),
between Crossriver and Joldustone ; over that land
Jorund went with fire, and bequeathed it to the
temple " (which he himself had raised at Svertings-
stead, on the western side of Markfleet).
But the most curious passage relating to these
fire-hallowings of unclaimed lands is the following
in the Landnamabok, p. 193 : " Onund the Sure
hight a man who settled land up from Mark-Gill,
all the eastern side of the valley, but when Eirek"
(Hroaldson, a settler of Go'Sdalir) " was minded to
go and settle all the western side of that valley,
Onund had a sacrifice and cast lots that he might
be sure what time Eirek would go to make the
valley his own, and Onund was the quicker of the
two, and shot a tinder-arrow across the river, and
thus hallowed for himself the land on the western
It is clear that hallowing waste lands, or lands
unlawfully occupied, for one's self in this manner,
carried with it an absolute title to ownership in the
land-settling days of Iceland, and for some time
afterwards. To investigate the question of the
origin of this custom is a matter far beyond the
scope of these prefatory remarks. It may be
noticed that the use made by Tongue-Odd of the
ceremony, when he, in the presence of the heir to
the murdered father's property, claims it because he
sees no house inhabited, sees nought but a waste
land, shows, not perhaps so much his love of
wrongdoing, as his ignorance of the sacredness of
a rite which perchance had a different meaning to
the heathen from the east and the Christian from
the west, i.e., from Great Britain. 1
The style of Hen Thorir's Saga is of the very
simplest simple sometimes even to abruptness ;
especially in the passage where a few words tell of
the burning of the noble and generous Blundketil ;
and wherein our saga offers such a curious contrast
to the tremendous drama which surrounds the
death of Nial and his sons. Yet even this strange
1 The Icelanders' way of speaking of those who came from
Ireland, the Hebrides, and even from Scotland and Orkney, as
coming from the west, is to be explained by tradition, not by
their want of geographical orientation. From Norway these
lands lay in the west, and their inhabitants were " Westmen "
to those of the primitive fatherland. Hence the inaccurate use
of the cardinal point by the Icelanders.
blankness is not without weight in the telling of
the tale, helping to bring home to us the desolate
condition of the franklin's heir, and the gradual
building up of his fortune again from that barrenness.
For the rest, the catastrophe is led up to with a
full share of the usual skill and intentness of the
Icelandic saga-man, and the chronicle-tale into
which it lapses in the latter part, like most of the
more historical of the local sagas, is told briskly
and with purpose, and ends very pleasantly, with
the generous and manly dealings between Thord
Oddson and the gallant archer, Gunnar Hlifarson.
Those who are curious to go into a comparative
study of the historical details of this saga we refer
to our Note to page xxxii.
HOWARD THE HALT.
Page 15, lines 28-29, f 01 ' "So go we all together," said Olaf
read " So go we all together." Said Olaf;
,, 90, line 25, for courts read court.
,,158, 1 3, for away raz</ abroad.
MAP OF THE
HOWARD THE HALT.
CHAPTER I. OF THORBIORN AND THE ICEFIRTHERS.
HERE beginneth this story, and telleth of
a man named Thorbiorn, the son of Thio-
drek, who dwelt in Icefirth at a house
called Bathstead, and had the priesthood over Ice-
firth ; he was a man of great kin and a mighty chief,
but the most unjust of men, neither was there any
throughout Icefirth who bore any might to gainsay
him : he would take the daughters of men or their
kinswomen, and handfast them awhile, and then
send them home again. From some men he took
their goods and chattels in their despite, and other
some he drave away from their lands. He had taken
a woman, Sigrid by name, young and high-born, to
be over his household ; great wealth she had, which
Thorbiorn would hold for her behoof, but not put
out to usury while she was with him.
A man named Howard dwelt at the stead of
Bluemire : he was of great kin, but now sunk
unto his latter days ; in his earlier life he had
been a great viking, and the best of champions;
but in a certain fight he had gotten many sore
2 The Saga Library.
hurts, and amongst them one under his kneepan,
whereby he went halt ever after. Howard was a
wedded man, and his wife was hight Biargey, a
woman of good kin, and the most stirring of women.
One son they had, hight Olaf, young of years, the
doughtiest of men, great of growth, and goodly of
aspect : Howard and Biargey loved him much,
and he was obedient and kind unto them.
Thormod was the name of a man who dwelt at
Bank, whose wife was hight Thorgerd : he was little
to people's minds, and was now somewhat stricken
in years ; it was said of him that he had more shapes
than one, and all folk deemed him most ill to deal
Liot was the name of one who dwelt at Moonberg
in Icefirth, a big man and a strong, brother to Thor-
biorn, and in all wise as like him as might be.
A man named Thorkel dwelt on an isle called
Eider-isle : he was a wise man, but of feeble heart,
though of great kin : he was of all men the least
outspoken : he was the Lawman of those of Ice-
firth. Two more men are named in the story ; one
named Brand, and the other Vakr, homemen of
Thorbiorn of Bathstead : Brand was great of growth
and mighty of strength ; it was his business to go
hither and thither in the summer, and fetch home
things of need for the stead ; but in winter he had
to watch the full-grown sheep : he was a man well-
beloved, and no busybody.
Vakr was sister's son of Thorbiorn, a little man,
and freckled of face, murderous of speech, and
foul-mouthed ; he would ever be egging Thor-
biorn, his kinsman, of two minds to be of the
Howard the Halt. 3
worser : wherefore was he unbefriended, and folk
grudged him no true word about himself : he did
no work save going about with Thorbiorn at home
and abroad, and doing his errands for him, and
that more especially when he was about some evil
A woman named Thordis dwelt at the Knoll in
Icefirth ; she was sister of Thorbiorn, and mother
of Vakr, and had another son named Scart, a big
and strong man, who abode with his mother, and
was master over her household.
Thoralf was the name of a man who abode at
Loonsere, a man well befriended, albeit of no great
account ; he was nigh akin to Sigrid, Thorbiorn's
housekeeper, and had craved to have her home to
him, and to put her money out to usury ; but Thor-
biorn would not have it so, but once more showed
forth his injustice, forbidding him ever speak a word
CHAPTER II. OF THE GREAT MANHOOD OF OLAF
HERE taketh up the tale the telling of how
that Olaf waxed up at Bluemire, and be-
came a hopeful man : men say that Olaf
Howardson had bear's- warmth ; for there was never
that frost or cold wherein he would go in more
raiment than breeches alone, with shirt girded there-
into ; never went he forth from the house clad in
more raiment than that.
There was a man named Thorhall, a homeman
of Howard, and akin to him, a young man of the
4 The Saga Library.
briskest, who used to get things together for the
One autumn the men of Icefirth fared to their
sheep-walks, and gathered but little there, and
Thorbiorn of Bathstead lacked sixty wethers.
Winter-nights wore, and they were not found, but a
little before winter Olaf Howardson went up into
the sheep-walks, and all the fells, and searched for
men's sheep, and found many, both those of
Thorbiorn, and his own and his father's, and other
folk's besides : then he drave the sheep home, and
brought his own to each man : whereby he became
well-beloved, and he had all men's thanks therefor.
Early on a day Olaf drave Thorbiorn's wethers
down to Bathstead, and he got there by then all
folk were set down to table, and there was no man
without ; so he smote on the door and a woman
came thereto, Sigrid to wit, Thorbiorn's house-
keeper, and she greeted him well, and asked him
what he would ; Olaf answered : " I have brought
Thorbiorn's wethers here, even those that he lost
in the autumn."
But when Thorbiorn heard that the door was
smitten on, he bade Vakr go see who was come
thither, so Vakr arose and went to the wicket,
and there he saw how Olaf and Sigrid were a-
talking together ; so he got up on the ledge of the
door and stood there while they talked. Now
Olaf was saying : " No need to go further then ;
thou Sigrid shalt tell where the wethers are."
She said that so it should be, and bade him
farewell : whereon Vakr ran back whooping into
the hall : then Thorbiorn asked him why he went
Howard the Halt. 5
on so, or who was to hand : said he : "I believe
verily that he, Olaf Howardson the Bluemire
booby, has been here, driving home thy sheep
that were missing last harvest."
" A good deed," said Thorbiorn.
" Ah, methinks there was something else behind
his coming, though," said Vakr, " for he and Sigrid
have been talking away all the morning, and I
could see that she liked well enough to lay her
arms about his neck."
Quoth Thorbiorn : " Dauntless though Olaf be,
yet is he overbold thus to go about to win my
So Olaf fared home. Time weareth, and, as
saith the tale, ever would Olaf be coming to Bath
stead, and seeing Sigrid ; and things went well
betwixt them, and the rumour went abroad pre-
sently that Olaf was beguiling her.
Next harvest went men to their sheep-walks,
and again brought home but little, and again
Thorbiorn lacked most : so when the folding was
over, Olaf gat him away alone, and went into the
sheep-walks far and wide, over mount and moor,
and again found many sheep and drave them into
the peopled parts, and once more brought each
man his own ; whereby he became so beloved of
the bonders that all men gave him good thanks,
saving Thorbiorn, who waxed exceeding grim at
him for all this ; both that others praised him, and
that he heard folk say the country over, of how he
came to Sigrid : neither spared Vakr to slander
Olaf to Thorbiorn.
Now once more it has come to pass that Olaf
6 The Saga Library.
is gotten to Bathstead with as many wethers as
aforetime ; and when he came thither no man was
without; so went he into the hall, and master
Thorbiorn was therein, and Vakr his kinsman, and
many homemen : Olaf went well-nigh up to the
dais, and smote his axe-shaft down on to the floor
and leaned thereon : but none greeted him, and
all kept silence ; so Olaf, when he found that no
man gave any heed to him, sang a stave :
This silence shall I break
And to Thanes speechless speak.
Stems of the spear-wood tall
Why sit ye hushed in hall ?
What honour then have those
Who keep their mouths shut close ?
Now long have I stood here
And had no word of cheer.
Spake Olaf then : "It is my errand hither,
goodman Thorbiorn, that I have brought home
" Yea," said Vakr, " men know, Olaf, that thou
art become the Icefirth sheep-drover ; and we wot
of thine errand hither, that thou art come to claim
a share in the sheep ; after the fashion of beggars.
And it were best to remember him, little as the
alms may be."
Olaf answered : " Nay, that is not my errand,
neither will I drive sheep here the third time."
And he turned away, and Vakr sprang up and
whooped after him, but Olaf gave no heed at all
to it, but went his ways home.
So wear the seasons ; and that harvest men get
home their sheep well, save Thorbiorn, who again
Howard the Halt. 7
lacked sixty wethers, and found them not at all :
so those kinsmen let out the word that Olaf had a
mind to claim share in them, or to steal them else.
Now on an evening as Olaf and his father sat
at the board together there lay a leg of mutton on
the dish, and Olaf took it up, and said : " A won-
drous big and fat leg is this."
" Yea," said Howard, " but methinks, kinsman,
it came from our sheep and not from Master
Thorbiorn's : a heavy thing to have to bear such
injustice ! "
Olaf laid the leg down on the board, and flushed
red ; and it seemed to them that sat by as though
he had smitten on the board ; anyhow, the leg
brake asunder so sharply that one part thereof
flew up into the gable wainscot and stuck there :
Howard looked up and smiled, but said nought.
Even therewith walked a woman into the hall,
and there was come Thorgerd of Bank : Howard
greeted her well, and asked for tidings, and she
said that her husband Thormod was dead.
" Yea, but things go amiss with us," she said, "for
he cometh home to his bed every night : wherefore
I fain would have some help from thee, goodman :
for whereas my men deemed it ill dealing with
Thormod aforetime, now are things come to such
a pass that they are all minded to be gone."
Howard answered : " I am passed the briskest
way of my life now, and am unmeet for such deal-
ings : why goest thou not to Bathstead ? it is to
be looked for of chieftains that they should presently
use their might in the country-side for the settling
of such matters."
8 The Saga Library.
She answered : " No good do I look for thence ;
nay, I am well content if he do me no harm."
Said Howard : " Then do I counsel thee to ask
Olaf, my son ; meet it is for young men to try their
manliness in such wise : time was when we should
have deemed it good game."
Even so she did, and Olaf promised to go, and
bade her abide there that night ; but the next day
Olaf went home with Thorgerd, at whose house
were all folk down-hearted.
But at night folk went to bed and Olaf lay in a
gable-end bed out by the door. In such wise burnt
light in the hall, that it was bright aloft and dim
below. Olaf lay down in his shirt and breeches (for
he never wore other clothes) and cast a fell over him.
Now at nightfall Thormod walked into the hall wag-
ging his bald head, and saw that there was a man a-
bed where none was wont to lie ; and forsooth he was
not over hospitable, so he turned thither, and caught
hold of the fell ; Olaf would not let it go, but held
on till they tore it atwain betwixt them ; so when
Thormod saw there was might in him that lay there,
he leapt up into the settle by the bed. Olaf sprang
up and laid hold on his axe to smite him, but things
went quicker than he looked for, and Thormod ran
in under his hand, and Olaf had to grapple with
him. The struggle was of the fiercest ; Thormod
was so hard a gripper that the flesh gave way be-
fore him wheresoever he took hold : and most
things flew about that were before them. Even in
that nick of time the light died out, and Olaf
deemed matters nowise amended thereby. Thor-
mod fell on furiously, and it came to pass in the
Howard the Halt. 9
end that they drave out of doors. In the home-
mead lay a great drift-log, and as hap would have
it Thormod tripped both his heels against the log
and fell aback : Olaf let his knee follow the belly
of him and served Thormod in such wise that he
did with him as he would. All folk were silent
when Olaf came back into the hall ; but when he
let himself be heard, folk were afoot and the light
kindled at one and the same time, and they fell to
stroking of him up and down, for he was all bruised
by Thormod's handling ; every child of man that
could speak gave thanks to him, and he said
he deemed that they would have no more hurt of
Olaf abode there certain days, and then went
back to Bluemire ; but the fame of that deed
of his spread wide through Icefirth, and all the
quarters of the land. Nevertheless from all this
also the hatred of Thorbiorn to him did but wax
CHAPTER III. HOWARD SHIFTETH HIS DWELLING-
IT is next to be told how a whale came ashore
in Icefirth : now Thorbiorn and Howard had
rights of drift adjoining one to the other, and
men said straightway that this whale was Howard's
of right ; and it was the best of whales. Either side
went thither, and would have the judgment of the
Lawman thereon : many men were come together
there, and it seemed clear to all that Howard should
have the whale.
(lo The Saga Library.
But now Thorkel the Lawman being come, he
was asked whose the whale was : he answered,
speaking very low, " Certainly the whale is
theirs." Then went Thorbiorn to him with drawn
sword, " Whose, thou wretch ? " said he. " O
thine, thine, surely," said Thorkel in all haste,
letting his head fall. So then Thorbiorn set to
work, and with wrongdoing took to him all the
whale, and Howard went home ill content with his
lot, and all men now deemed that Thorbiorn's utter
wrongdoing was again made manifest.
On a day Olaf went to his sheep-folds because
the weather was hard that winter, and men had
great need to look to their sheep, and that night
had been exceeding hard ; so when he was about
going he sees a man coming up to the house,
Brand the Strong to wit. Olaf greeted him, and
Brand took his greeting well ; Olaf asked what
made him there so late. Brand said : " It is an
ugly tale. I went to my sheep early in the day,
but they had all got driven down on to the fore-
shore ; there were two places whereby to drive
them up, but so oft as I tried to do that, there was
a man in the way, and withstood them, so that
they all came back into my arms ; and thus has it
gone on all day until now, wherefore am I fain that
we go there both together."
" That will I do for thy prayer," said Olaf.
So they went both together down to the fore-
shore, and when they would drive up the sheep
thence, they saw Thormod, Olaf 's wrestling-fellow,
standing in the way, and staying the sheep, so that
they came back into their arms. Then said Olaf,
Howard the Halt. 1 1
" Which wilt thou, Brand, drive the sheep, or play
with Thormod ? "
"The easiest will I choose," said Brand, "driving
the sheep to wit."
Then Olaf went there whereas stood Thormod
against him up above. There lay a great snow-
drift over the face of the bank. Olaf ran forthwith
up the bank at Thormod, who gave back before
him ; but when he came up on to the bank Thor-
mod ran under the arms of him, and Olaf caught
hold and wrestled with all his might ; they played
a long while, and Olaf thought that Thormod had
lost but little of his strength from that handling of
his : so it came to pass that they both fell together
on the face of the bank, and rolled over and over
one another till they tumbled into the drift below,
and now one, now the other, was atop, till they
came on to the foreshore ; by then as it happed
Thormod was under, so Olaf made the most of it,
and brake the back of him asunder, and served
him as he would, and then swam out to sea with
him and sank him in the depths of the sea ; and
ever after have men deemed it uncouth for men
sailing anigh there.
Then Olaf swam ashore, and Brand had by
then driven up all the sheep, and he gave
Olaf fair welcome, and so each went his ways
But when Brand came home, the night was far
spent, and Thorbiorn asked what had belated him.
Brand told him how things had gone, and how
Olaf had stood him in stead. Then said Vakr :
" Thou must have been sore afraid, whereas thou
12 The Saga Library.
praisest that booby : his fame will mostly come of
his dealings with ghosts, forsooth."
Brand answered : "Thou wouldst havebeen more
afraid ; for ever art thou greatest in talk, as the fox
in his tail, and in nowise art thou a match for him.'*
So they talked till either grew hot ; then Thor-
biorn bade Brand not to champion Olaf : " It shall
be ill for thee or any other to make more of Olaf
than me or my kin."
So weareth winter, and when spring is come,
Howard falleth to talk with Olaf his son, saying :
" Things have come to this, kinsman, that I have
no heart to live any longer so nigh to Thorbiorn,
for we have no might to hold our own against him."
Olaf said : " It is little to my mind to have such
boot for our wrongs as to flee before Thorbiorn ;
yet will I that thou rule ; whither wilt thou,
then ? "
Howard answered : "Out on the other side of
the firth are many empty tofts and wide lands
owned of no man ; there will I that we set up our
dwelling, and then we shall be nigher to our friends
That rede they take and flit all their stock and
such goods as they had, and set up there a very
goodly house, which was afterward called Howard-
Now there were no bonders in Icefirth in those
days, but were land-settlers.
Howard the Halt. 13
CHAPTER IV. THE SLAYING OF OLAF HOWARDSON.
N" OW Thorbiorn Thiodrekson rode every
summer to the Thing with his men ; he
was a mighty chief, of great stock, and had
In those days Guest Oddleifson dwelt at the
Mead on Bardstrand ; he was a great sage, and
wise and well-befriended, the most foreseeing of
all men, and had rule over many.
Now the same summer that the father and son
shifted their dwelling Thorbiorn rode to the Thing
a-wooing, and craved the sister of Guest Odd-
leifson. Guest was cold over the match, saying
that Thorbiorn was little to his mind because of
his injustice and violence ; but whereas many
furthered Thorbiorn in his wooing, Guest gave
him this choice, that the match should be if he
promised by hand given to lay aside his injustice
and wrongdoing, and to render his own to each
man, and hold by law and right ; but if he would
not bring himself to this, then was Guest to be quit
of the bargain, and the match to be clean voided.
Thorbiorn assented hereto, and the bargain was
struck on these terms. Then Thorbiorn rode from
the Thing home with Guest to Bardstrand, and
the wedding was holden in the summer, and that
was the best of bridals.
But when these tidings were known in Icefirth,
Sigrid and Thoralf her kinsman take counsel
together, and summon the bonders, and let
appraise for Sigrid her goods out of Bathstead,
and x thereafter she fared to Thoralf at Loonsere.
14 The Saga Library.
So when Thorbiorn came home to Bathstead he
was wondrous wroth that Sigrid was gone ; and
he threatened the bonders with measureless evil
in that they had appraised those goods, and he
grew as hard as hard might be, for he deemed his
might waxen by this alliance of his.
Master Howard's live stock was very wild that
summer, and on a morning early the herdsman
came in, and Olaf asked how it went with him.
" So it goes," quoth he, " that there is a deal of
the beasts missing, and I may not do both at once,
seek for those that are lost, and heed them that
are found." " Keep a good heart, fellow," answered
Olaf, " heed what thou hast, and I will go seek the
Now by this time he was grown to be the most
hopeful of men, and the goodliest to look on, and
both big and strong : he was eighteen winters old.
So Olaf took his axe in his hand, and went down
along by the firth till he came to Loonsere, and
there he sees that those sheep are all gotten to the
place where they first came aland ; so he turned
toward the house early in the morning-tide, and
smote on the door, and thither came Sigrid, and
greeted him well, and well he took her greeting.
But now when they had talked awhile, Sigrid
said : " Lo a boat coming over the firth, and
therein I see clearly Thorbiorn Thiodrekson and
Vakr his kinsman ; and I can see their weapons
lying forward in the prow, and Warflame is there,
Thorbiorn's sword ; and now either he will have
done an ill deed or be minded for one ; wherefore I
pray thee Olaf meet him not ; this long while have
Howard the Halt. 1 5
ye been ill seen one of another, and belike matters
will not be bettered since ye were at the apprais-
ing of the goods for me from Bathstead."
Olaf answered : " I fear not Thorbiorn whiles I
have done him no wrong, and but a little way will
I run before him alone."
" A brave word of thine," she said, " that thou,
a lad of eighteen winters, must needs yield nought
before one who is any man's match in fight, and
beareth a sword whose stroke will not be stayed
by aught ; yea, and I deem that if their intent is
to meet thee, as indeed my mind forebodes me,
wicked Vakr will not sit idle by the fight."
Olaf answered : " I have no errand with Thor-
biorn, and I will not go meet them, yet if we do
meet, thou shalt have to ask after brave deeds if
need there be."
" Nay, I shall never ask thereof," said Sigrid.
Then Olaf sprang up quickly, and bade her live
long and happy, and she bade him farewell ; and
therewith he went down to the foreshore whereas
lay the sheep ; and Thorbiorn and Vakr were
come to land now, over against that very place ;
so he went his ways down to the boat and met it,
and drew it up under them on to the beach. Thor-
biorn greeted Olaf well, and he took the greeting,
and asked whither away, and Thorbiorn said he
would go see his sister Thordis. " So go we all
together," said Olaf; "it falleth amiss, because I
must needs drive my sheep home ; and verily it
might well be said that sheep-drovers shall be
getting great men in Icefirth if thou shouldst lower
thyself so far as to take to that craft."
1 6 The Saga Library.
" Nay, I heed that nought," said Thorbiorn.
Now there was a big heap of wood on the beach,
whereon lay a great forked cudgel with the ends
broken off : this Olaf caught up and bore in his
hand, and so drave the sheep before him, and they
went their ways all together.
Thorbiorn talked with Olaf, and was as merry
as might be : but Olaf found that they would ever
be hanging back ; so he looked to that, and then
on they went all abreast, till they came past the
knoll, and there the ways sundered.
Then Thorbiorn turned about and said : " Kins-
man Vakr, there is no longer any need to put off
that which we would do."
Olaf saw the intent of them, and turned up on
to the bent, and they set on him from below :
Olaf warded himself with the cudgel, but Thorbiorn
smote hard and oft with the sword Warflame, and
sliced away the cudgel as if it had been a stalk of
angelica : yet gat they heavy strokes from the
cudgel whiles it held out ; but when it was all
smitten to pieces Olaf took to his axe, and defended
himself so well that they deemed it doubtful how
it would go between them ; and they were all
Now Thordis, Thorbiorn's sister, went out that
morning of the fight, and heard the noise thereof,
but might not see aught ; so she sent her foot-page
to see what was toward ; who came back and told
her that there were Thorbiorn her brother and
Vakr her son fighting against Olaf Howardson : so
she turned back into the house, and told her son
Skart of these tidings, and bade him go help his
Howard the Halt. 17
kinsmen ; but he said : " I am more like to go
fight for Olaf against them, for I hold it shame for
three to fall upon one man, they being as like to
win the day as any four other : I will nowise go."
Thordis answered : " I was deeming that I had
two stout-hearted sons ; but sooth is that which is
said, ' Many a thing lieth long hidden : ' for now I
know that thou art rather a daughter than a son of
mine, since thou durst not help thy kin : wherefore
now shall I show full surely that I am a braver
daughter than thou art a son."
Therewith she went away, but he waxed won-
drous wroth, and he leapt up and caught hold of
his axe, and ran out, and down along the bent to
where they were fighting. Thorbiorn saw him,
and set on all the more fiercely, but Olaf saw him
not : and as soon as Skart came within reach of
Olaf he fetched a blow at him with both hands,
and drave the axe deep in between the shoulders.
Olaf was about smiting at Thorbiorn, but when
he got that stroke he turned about with axe raised
aloft on Skart, who was weaponless now, and
smote him on the head so that the axe stood in the
brain : but even therewith was Thorbiorn beside
Olaf, and smote him into the breast, and that was
enough for the death of him, and the twain, Skart
and Olaf, tumbled down dead.
Then Thorbiorn went up to Olaf and smote him
across the face so that the front teeth and jaw-
teeth fell out. Vakr said, "Why dost thou so to a
dead man ? "
Thorbiorn answered that it might yet serve him
somewhat, and he took a clout therewith, and knit
1 8 The Saga Library.
up the teeth in it, and kept them. Then they went
into the house, and told Thordis the tidings ; and
they were both grievously wounded.
Thordis was much overcome thereat, and be-
wailed bitterly that eager egging- on of her son :
but she gave them help and service there.
Now are these tidings told far and wide about
Icefirth ; and all thought it the greatest scathe
of Olaf, such a defence as he had made withal, as
the rumour of men told : for herein did Thor-
biorn well, in that he told everything even as
it had happened, and gave Olaf his due in the
So they fared home when they deemed they had
might thereto, and their weariness had run off, and
Thorbiorn went to Loonsere and asked for Sigrid :
but he was told that she had not been seen since
she went out with Olaf that other morning. She
was sought for far and wide, but, as the tale goes,
she was never seen again.
So Thorbiorn went home and abode in peace at
his own house.
CHAPTER V. HOWARD CLAIMETH ATONEMENT OF
HOWARD and Biargey, saith the tale, got
these tidings of the death of their son
Olaf, and old Howard sighed heavily
and went to his bed ; and so say folk that he lay
there in his bed all the next twelve months, and
never came out of it. But Biargey took such rede
that she rowed out to sea every day with Thorhall,
Howard the Halt. 19
and worked benights at what there was need to
work in the house.
So wear away those seasons, and all is quiet :
there was no blood-suit after Olaf, and men deemed
it likely that his kin would never right their case ;
for Howard was deemed fit for nought, and
withal he had to do with men mighty, and little
like to deal fairly. So wear the seasons.
On a morning it fell that Biargey went to master
Howard, and asked if he were waking, and he said
so it was, and asked what she would : she said,
" I would have thee arise and go to Bathstead, and
see Thorbiorn ; for it is manly for one who is un-
meet for hardy deeds not to spare his tongue from
speaking that which may avail : nor shalt thou
claim overmuch if he bear himself well." He
answered : " I see nought good herein ; yet shalt
thou have thy will."
So old master Howard goes his way to Bath-
stead, and Thorbiorn gave him good greeting, and
he took the same. Then spake old Howard :
" This is the matter in hand, Thorbiorn, that I am
come to claim weregild for my son Olaf, whom
thou slewest sackless."
Thorbiorn answered : "It is well known, Howard,
that I have slain many men, and though folk
called them sackless, yet have I paid weregild for
none : but whereas thou hast lost a brave son, and
the matter touches thee so closely, meseemeth it
were better to remember thee somewhat, were it
never so little : now here above the garth goeth a
horse that the lads call Dodderer : grey is he,
sorebacked, and hath lain cast a long while until
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now ; for he is exceeding old : but now he hath
been fed on chaff these days past, and belike is
somewhat amended ; come, take him home, and
keep him if thou wilt."
Howard reddened, and might not answer aught :
he gat him gone straightway, wondrous wroth, and
Vakr whooped after him as he walked all bent
down to his boat, where Thorhall had awaited him
So they rowed home, and Howard went to his
bed, and lay down, and never stood up for the next
This was heard of far and wide, and folk deemed
that Thorbiorn had again showed his evil heart
and unrighteousness in that answer. And so wear
CHAPTER VI. BIARGEY WILL HAVE HOWARD GO TO
BUT the next summer Thorbiorn rides to
the Thing with his men from Icefirth. And
on a day Biargey goes again to talk to
Howard, and he asked her what she would ; she
answered : " I would have thee ride to the Thing,
and see if aught may be done in thy case." He
answered : " This is clean contrary to my mind :
thinkest thou that I have not been mocked enough
of Thorbiorn my son's bane, but that he must needs
mock me also whereas all the chieftains are gathered
together ? "
Said she: "It will not fare so. This I guess,
that thou wilt have someone to help thee in thy
Howard the Halt. 21
case, Guest Oddleifson to wit : and if it hap, as I
think, that he bring about peace between thee and
Thorbiorn, so that he shall have to pay thee much
money, then meseemeth he will let many men be
thereby, and there will be a ring of men round
about, and thou wilt be within the ring when Thor-
biorn payeth thee the money : and now if it come
to pass that Thorbiorn, before he pay thee that
money, doeth somewhat to grieve the soul in thee,
trying thee sorely, then shalt thou get thee gone
at thy most speed ; and then if it be that thou art
lighter of heart than thou mightest look for, thou
shalt not make peace in thy suit ; because then
thou mayest hope, as unlike as it looketh, that
Olaf our son shall be avenged : but if thou wax
not light-hearted, then go not away from the Thing
unappeased, because then no avenging shall be."
Said Howard : "I know not what all this
meaneth ; but if I knew that Olaf my son should
be avenged, nought should I heed any toil herein."
CHAPTER VII. OLD HOWARD RIDETH TO THE THING.
SO she gat him ready, and he rode his ways :
somewhat bent was the old man as he came
to the Thing ; by which time were the
booths tilted, and all men come.
He rode to a great booth, even that which was
owned of Steinthor of Ere, a mighty man and a
great chief, of the stoutest and best heart : he leapt
from his horse, and went into the booth, and there
sat Steinthor and his men beside him : so Howard
went up to him, and greeted him well, and well he
22 The Saga Library.
took his greeting, and asked him who he was.
Howard told of himself. Said Steinthor: "Art
thou he who had that well-renowned son whom
Thorbiorn slew, and whose stout defence is in all
men's mouths ? "
Howard said that even so it was : " And I will,
master, that thou give me leave to abide in thy
booth throughout the Thing."
He answered : " Surely I will give thee leave ;
but be quiet, and abstain from meddling ; for the
lads here are ever gamesome, and thou hast a
great sorrow in thine heart, and art little fit to
hold thine own, an old man, and a helpless."
The tale tells that old Howard took to himself a
berth somewhere within the booth, and lay down
there, and never stirred thence, nor ever fell into
talk with any until the Thing was far spent : but
on a morning Steinthor came to him, and said :
" Why earnest thou hither to lie there like a bedes-
man and a losel ? "
Said Howard : " I had it in my mind to seek
atonement for Olaf my son, but my heart faileth
me, for Thorbiorn is unsparing of foul words and
Said Steinthor : "Take my counsel ; go thou to
Thorbiorn and complain of thy case ; and I deem
that if Guest goes with thee thou shalt get right-
ing of Thorbiorn." So Howard arose, and went
forth all bent, and fared to the booth of Guest and
Thorbiorn, and went in. Thorbiorn was therein,
but not Guest : so Howard was greeted of Thor-
biorn, who asked him why he was come thither.
Howard answered : " So mindful am I of the slay-
Howard the Halt. 23
ing of Olaf my son that it seemeth to me but newly
done ; and my errand here is to claim weregild of
thee for the slaying."
Thorbiorn answered : " Now give I good rede
to thee ; come to me at home in my own country,
and then may I comfort thee somewhat : but here
am I busy over many things, and will not have
thee whining against me."
Howard answered : "If thou wilt do nought
now, I have well proven that thou wilt do none
the more in thine own country : but I was deem-
ing that someone might perchance back my case
Then spake Thorbiorn : " Hear a wonder ! "
said he, "he is minded now to draw men upon me!
get thee gone, and never henceforward speak to
me hereof if thou wilt be unbeaten."
Then Howard waxed very wroth, and turned
away from the booth, saying : " Too old am I
now, but those days of mine have been, wherein I
little looked to bear such wrong."
Now as he went, came men meeting him, Guest
Oddleifson to wit, and his folk. Howard was so
wroth that he scarce heeded where he went, nor
would he meet those men, so home he went to his
booth ; but Guest cast a glance at the man going
Howard went to his berth, and lay down and
drew a heavy sigh : so Steinthor asked him how
he had fared, and he told him. Steinthor answered :
" Such deeds are injustice unheard of! great shame
to him may be looked for some time or other."
Now when Guest came back to his booth he was
24 The Saga Library.
well greeted of Thorbiorn, but he said : " What
man went from the booth even now ? "
Thorbiorn answered : " A wondrous question
from so wise a man ! More come and go here-
about than I may make account of."
Guest answered : " Yea, but this man was un-
like to other men : a man big-grown, albeit some-
what old and haltfoot, yet most manly of mien
withal ; and meseemed he was full of sorrow and
little-ease and heart-burning : and so wroth he was
that he heeded not whither he went : yea, and the
man looked lucky too, and not one to be lightly
Answered Thorbiorn : " This will have been old
Howard, my Thingman."
Guest asked: "Was it his son that thou slewest
sackless ? "
" Yea, sure," said Thorbiorn.
Said Guest : "How deemest thou that thou
hast held to the promise that thou madest me
when I gave thee my sister ? "
Now there was a man named Thorgils, called
Hallason after his mother, a man most renowned
and great-hearted, who abode as then with Guest his
kinsman, and this was in the days of his fast- waxing
fame. Him Guest bade go after Howard and bid
him thither ; so he went to Howard's booth, and
told him that Guest would see him : but Howard
said : " Loth am I to go and endure the injustice
of Thorbiorn and his shameful words."
Thorgils bade him fare. " Guest will back thy
case," said he. So Howard went, how loth soever
he were, and came to Guest, who stood up to
Howard the Halt. 25
meet him, and welcomed him, and set him down
beside him, and spake : "Now shalt thou, Howard,
begin, and tell forth all thy dealings with Thor-
He did so, and when he had spoken, Guest
asked of Thorbiorn if that were in any wise true :
and Thorbiorn said it was no vain babble. Then
said Guest : " Heard any of suchlike injustice !
Now hast thou two choices ; either I break our
bargain utterly, or thou shalt suffer me alone to
doom and deal in this your case."
To this said Thorbiorn yea, and so they all
went from out the booth. Then Guest called to
him a many men, and they stood in a ring round
about, but some stood together within the ring, and
talked the matter over. Then spoke Guest : " I
may not, Thorbiorn, award as much money as
ought to be paid, because thou hast not where-
withal to pay it : but I award a threefold mangild
for the slaying of Olaf. But as to the other wrong
thou hast done to Howard, I offer thee, Howard,
that thou come to me every spring and autumn
tide, and I will honour thee with gifts, and will
promise never to fail thee whiles we both live."
Thorbiorn said : " This will I yeasay, and will
pay him at my ease at home in the country-side."
" Nay," said Guest, " thou shalt pay all the
money here at the Thing, and pay it well and
duly : but I myself will lay down one mangild."
And this same he delivered out of hand well paid
down. But Howard sat down, and poured the
money into his cloak-skirt. Thereon Thorbiorn
went thereto, and paid up little by little, and when
26 The Saga Library.
he had got through one mangild he said he had
come to the end of what he had. Guest bade him
not to shirk the matter, and thereon Thorbiorn
took a folded cloth, and undid it, and spake :
" Surely now he will not deem himself paid short
if he have this withal."
And thereon he drave it on to Howard's face so
that the blood fell adown him. " Lo there," said
he, " the teeth and jaw-teeth of Olaf thy son ! "
Then Howard beheld how these were tumbling
into his cloak-skirt, and he leapt up mad-wroth,
and the pennies rolled this way and that, and staff
in hand he rushed at the ring of men, and thrust
his staff so hard against the breast of one, that he
fell aback, and lay long in a swoon : then leapt
Howard over the ring of men, and touched none,
and came down afar from any, and so ran home to
his booth like a young man ; but when he came to
the booth, he would give no word to any, but cast
himself down and lay as one sick.
After these things spake Guest unto Thorbiorn :
"No man is like to thee for evil heart and wrong-
doing : nor can I see aught into a man if thou dost
not repent it one day, thou or thy kin ? "
And so wroth and wood was Guest, that he rode
straight from the Thing to Icefirth, and took away
Thorgerd from Thorbiorn : whereby Thorbiorn
and all his kin deemed their honour sorely minished,
but nought might they do. Guest said withal that
Thorbiorn would have to abide a greater shame
yet, and one more meet for him ; and he rideth
therewith away to Bardstrand with his kinswoman
and a deal of money.
Howard the Halt. 27
The tale tells that Howard got him away home
after these things and was by now exceeding stiff :
but Steinthor said to him or ever they parted : " If
ever thou need a little help, Howard, come thou
Howard thanked him, and so rode home, and lay
down in his bed and abode there the third twelve-
month and was by then waxen much stiffen
Biargey still held to her wont of rowing out to sea
every day along with Thorhall.
CHAPTER VIII. OF BIARGEY AND HER BRETHREN.
ON a day in summer as they rowed out to
sea they saw a craft coming east up the
firth, and they knew that it was Thorbiorn
and his homemen. Then spake Biargey : "Now
shall we take up our lines, and row to meet Thor-
biorn, for I would see him : thou shalt row towards
the cutter's beam, and I will talk with him a little,
whiles thou rowest about the craft." They did so
and rowed toward the cutter : Biargey cast a word
at Thorbiorn, hailing him, and asking him whither
he would : he said he was going west to Vadil :
" Thither is come out Sturla my brother, and Thio-
drek his son, and I shall flit them down hither to
" How long wilt thou be gone, master ?" said she.
" Nigh upon a week," said Thorbiorn.
Thorhall had by now rowed all about the cutter,
and so when she had what she wanted they bent to
their oars, and rowed off all they might. Then
cried Thorbiorn : " To the devil with the wretched
28 The Saga Library.
hag ! let us straightway row after them, and slay
him and maim her."
Then spake Brand : " Lo here again the truth of
what men say of thee, that thou wilt never spare to
do all the ill thou mayest : but I shall help them
with all my might ; so thou wilt have a dear bargain
of it." So, what with Brand's words, what with
their having by now gotten far away, Thorbiorn
kept quiet and went his ways.
Now spake Biargey : " As little as it seemeth
likely, I deem that there will be an avenging for
Olaf my son ; now will we not go straight home."
" Whither away ? " said Thorhall.
" We will go see Valbrand my brother," said she.
Now he dwelt at Valbrandstead, a very old man in
these days, but once of great renown : two sons he
had, exceeding hopeful, but young in years, Torfi
and Eyjulf to wit.
So they make no stay till they came there : Val-
brand was abroad in the home-mead and many men
with him ; he went to meet his sister, and greeted
her, and prayed her to abide ; but she said : "It
may not be, I must be home to-night."
" What wilt thou, sister ? " said he.
She said : " I will that thou lend me thy seal-
" Here be three," he said : " one old and grown
untrustworthy now, though once it was strong enow,
and two new and unproven : which wilt thou, two
or three ? "
She said : " The new ones will I have, but I will
not risk taking the old : get them ready against I
send for them."
Howard the Halt. 29
He said that so it should be, and therewith they
Then said Thorhall : " Whither now ?" She an-
swered : " We will go see Thorbrand my brother."
He dwelt at Thorbrandstead and was now very old :
he had two sons, young and hopeful, hight Odd and
So when they came thither Thorbrand gave them
good greeting and bade them abide : she said it
might not be.
" What wilt thou then, sister ? " said he.
Quoth she : " I would have the loan of thy trout-
He answered : " Here have I three, one very old,
and two new that have not been used : which wilt
thou, two or three ? "
She said she would have but those new ones, and
they parted therewith. Then they go their ways,
and Thorhall asked : " Whither now ? "
" Let us go see master Asbrand, my brother,"
said she. He dwelt at Asbrandstead, and was the
eldest of those brethren, and had wedded a sister of
master Howard : he had a son named Hallgrim,
young of years, but both big and strong; ill-favoured,
but most manlike to behold. So when Biargey
came there, Asbrand greeted her, and bade her
abide, but she said she must home that evening.
" What wilt thou," said he, " so seldom as thou
comest to see thy kin ? "
" A little errand," said she ; " we be unfurnished of
turf-tools, so I would that thou lend me thy turf-axe."
He answered, smiling : " Here be two, one exceed-
ing rusty, old and notched, and now deemed fit for
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nought ; but the other new and big, though unused
She said she would have the new one when she
came to fetch it : he answered that she should have
her way : and so they fare home to Howardstead
in the evening.
CHAPTER IX. HOWARD GOETH TO BATHSTEAD.
N" OW weareth certain days, until Biargey
thought she might look for Thorbiorn's
return from the west ; then on a day she
went to Howard's bed, and asked him if he slept :
he sat up thereon, and sang :
Never sleep besetteth
Mine eyelids since that morning
Grief driveth the ship-dweller
To din of steel a-meeting
Never since the sword-stems
Wrought that brunt of bucklers ;
E'en those that slew my Olaf
" Full surely," said she, " that is a huge lie, that
thou hast not slept for three years long : but now
is it time to arise, and make thee as valiant as may
be, if thou wouldst avenge Olaf thy son ; for never
will he be avenged in thy lifetime but if that be to-
So when he heard her words he leapt up from his
bed and forth on to the floor, and sang :
Once more amid my old age
I ask for quiet hearing,
Although the speech of song-craft
Scarce in my heart abideth
Howard the Halt. 31
Since then when first I wotted
Of weapon-god downfallen.
O son, how surely wert thou
The strength of all my welfare !
And now was Howard as brisk as might be, and
halt no longer : he went to a big chest that was full
of weapons, and unlocked it, and set a helm on his
head, and did on him a strong byrny : then he looked
up, and saw a mew flying across the window, and
therewith he sang a stave :
Lo here the bird of slaughter,
Who coming to the corpse-sea
Craveth his meal of morning !
E'en so in old days bygone
From the old tree croaked the raven
When the sworn hawks of the slaughter
The warrior's mead went seeking.
H e armed himself speedily and deftly, and arrayed
Thorhall also with goodly weapons: and so when
they were ready he turned to Biargey and kissed
her, saying it was not all so sure when they should
So she bade him farewell : "No need to egg thee
on to the avenging of Olaf our son, for I wot that
in thee might and a hardy heart are fellows."
So they parted : but those twain went down to
the sea, and ran out a six-oared boat, and took the
oars, and made no stay till they came off the stead
of Valbrand : there a long tongue of the ere runneth
out into the sea, and there they laid their boat : then
Howard bade Thorhall watch the boat while he
went up to the stead ; and he had a spear in his
hand, a noble weapon : but when he came up on to
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the home-mead there were the father and sons : the
brethren were stripped and raking up the hay, and
had taken off their shoes, and had laid them down
in the meadow beside them ; and they were high
So Valbrand went to meet Howard, and greeted
him well, bidding him abide : he said it might
not be :
" For I am come to fetch the seal-nets that thou
didst lend to my wife, thy sister."
Then went Valbrand to his sons, and said to
them : " Hither is come Howard your kinsman,
and he is so arrayed as if he had some mighty deed
But when they heard that, they cast by their
rakes and ran to their clothes, and when they came
to take their shoes, lo ! they were shrunken with
the sun : nevertheless they thrust their feet into
them at their speediest, so that they tore the skin
off their heels, and when they came home their
shoes were full of blood.
Valbrand gave his sons good weapons, and said :
"Follow Howard well, and think more on your
vengeance than on what may come after."
Then they went their ways to Thorbrandstead,
and there also were Odd and Thorir speedily
arrayed. Thence fared they till they came to
Asbrandstead, and there Howard claimed his turf-
cutter, whereon. Hallgrim his kinsman arrayed
himself to go with him, in whose company also
went one An, a homeman of Asbrand, who did
housecarle's service, and was fosterer of Hall-
Howard the Halt. 33
So when they were ready they went to where the
boat lay, and Thorhall greeted them well. They
were now eight in company, and each more warrior-
like than the other. Now spake Hallgrim to
Howard his kinsman, saying : " Why wentest thou
from home, kinsman, lacking both sword and axe?"
He answered : " Maybe we shall fall in with
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, and then after our parting
thou shalt speak another word, for most like I shall
have the sword Warflame, the best of weapons."
Then they rejoiced, blessing the word of his
mouth : " For much lies upon it that we fall to
work in manly wise."
The day was now far spent, and so they ran out
the boat, and leapt into her, and fell a-rowing : and
even therewith they saw a great flock of ravens
flying on before them over the tongue of the ere
that lay ahead : then sang Howard this stave :
A sign I deem yon blood-fowl
Over the ere a-s weeping ;
Since even now fat-feeding
To Odin's fowl I promised.
All we shall have to hearken,
O Hallgrim, to Hild's uproar,
And well are we, O fellows,
Whom happy hour awaiteth.
They fared over the sound, and out in the firth it
blew hard, whereby they shipped many a sea for-
ward : but they fell to work in manly wise, and
made no stay till they came off Bathstead : thereat
was a place good to lay a craft in, for Thorbiorn
had let make a goodly haven there, and had had
all cleaned and cleared out right up to land : the
shore went down steep into the sea, and a cutter
34 The Saga Library.
might lie there, or a craft bigger yet, if need were :
great whale-ribs also were laid down there for
slips, and the ends of them made fast with big
stones : nor needed any man be wet going off
board or on, were the ship bigger or lesser.
But above this haven ran a ridge of shingle,
above which stood a great boat-house well found
in all wise ; and on the other hand above the ridge
on one side was a big pool ; from the boat-house
one might not see the foreshore, but from the
shingle-ridge both boat-house and foreshore were
So when they came to land they leapt from the
boat, and Howard spake, saying : " We will bear
the boat up over the ridge unto the pool, and we
ourselves also will be up the other side of the
ridge, so that they may not see us at once ; neither
will we be over hasty in our hunting : let none
leap up before I give the word." And now was it
CHAPTER X. OF THE MEETING OF THOSE MEN AT
NOW must we tell how Thorbiorn and his
fellows fare from the west, ten in company
in a cutter : Sturla was there, and Thio-
drek his son, Thorbiorn and Vakr, Brand the
Strong and two house-carles ; and their cutter was
That same evening they came to Bathstead just
before dark, and Thorbiorn said : " We will fare
nought hastily ; we will let the cutter lie here to-
Howard the Halt. 35
night, and bear up nought save our weapons and
clothes, for the weather is fine and like to be dry :
and thou, Vakr, shalt bear ashore our weapons." So
he took their swords first and their spears, and
bore them up to the boat-house.
Then said Torfi : " Let us take their swords and
him that goes with them."
" Nay, let it be yet," said Howard. But he bade
Hallgrim go and take the sword Warflame, and
bring it him : so when Vakr went down again,
Hallgrim ran and took the sword and brought it
to Howard, and he drew it forth and brandished
Now Vakr came up again, and had laden his
back with shields and his arms with steel-hoods, and
he had a helm on his head. So when he was gotten
to the pool-side they sprang up to take him : but
he, hearing the clatter of them deemed full surely
that war was abroad, and was minded to run back
to his friends with their weapons, but as he turned
round sharply, his feet stumbled by the pool, so that
he fell down therein head foremost ; the mud was
deep there, and the water shallow, and the man
heavy-laden with all those weapons ; so he might
not get up again, neither would any there help him,
and that was Vakr's latter end, that there he died.
So when they had seen that, they ran down to the
shingle-ridge, and when Thorbiorn beheld them he
cast himself into the sea, and struck out from shore.
Master Howard was the first to see this hap, and he
ran and cast himself also into the sea, and swam
But of Brand the Strong they say, that rushing
36 The Saga Library.
forward, he caught hold of a ship-runner, a great
whale-rib, and drove it into the head of An, Hall-
grim's fosterer ; Hallgrim was just come down from
the ridge when he saw An fall ; so he ran up with
axe raised aloft, and smote Brand on the head,
cleaving him down to the shoulders, and it was
even therewith that Thorbiorn and Howard leapt
into the sea ; and Hallgrim when he saw it leapt
in after them.
Torfi Valbrandson ran to meet Sturla, a big and
strong man, unmatched in arms, and he had all his
war-gear on him : so they fought long, and in manly
CHAPTER XI. OF THE SLAYING OF THORBIORN
TURN we now to Howard and Thorbiorn :
they made from land, and a long swim it
was till they came to a skerry that lay off
there ; and when Thorbiorn came up on to the
skerry, Howard was but just off it : that seeth
Thorbiorn, who being weaponless before him,
catcheth up a big stone to drive at his head
But when Howard saw that, it came into his
mind of how he had heard tell of the Outlands
that another faith was put forth there than the faith
of the Northlands ; and therewith he vowed that if
any could show him that that faith was better and
fairer, then would he trow in it if he might but
And therewithal he struck out his hardest for
Howard the Halt. 37
the skerry. And so as Thorbiorn was a-casting
the stone, his feet slipped up, for it was slippery on
the stones, and he fell aback, and the stone fell on
his breast, so that he was stunned thereby; and
even therewith came Howard on to the skerry, and
thrust him through with the sword Warflame.
Then was Hallgrim also come on to the skerry ;
but Howard smote Thorbiorn across the face, and
clave out the teeth and jaw-teeth of him, and down
right through. Hallgrim asked wherefore he did
so to a dead man ; but Howard said : " I had this
stroke in my mind when Thorbiorn smote me in
the face with that cloth knit up ; for then the teeth
that he had smitten from Olaf, my son with this
same sword, tumbled about me."
Then they made for the land again. Men
deemed afterward when that was told them, that
Howard did valiantly to swim out into the firth,
not knowing that there was any skerry before
him : and a very long swim was that even as things
As they came up toward the shingle-ridge, a
man came running to meet them with axe raised
aloft, a man in a blue frock girt into his breeches ;
they turned toward him, and when they met they
knew Torfi Valbrandson, and greeted him well, and
he asked them if Thorbiorn were dead. Then sang
I drave adown the sword-edge
To jaw of sword-clash dealer ;
I set the venomed sword-dew
Seeking the chieftain's eyen ;
Nought saw I any shrinking
In that dweller in the scabbard
38 The Saga Library.
Warflame, when his old wielder
Who once was mighty fell there.
He asked what their deeds were, and Torfi said
that Sturla was fallen, and the house-carles, but
that An was slain withal. Then sang Howard :
So have we slain full swiftly
Four of the men who slew him,
The blood-stained son of Biargey ;
Brave is the gain we bring you.
But one of our own fellows
An, unto earth is fallen
By bone of sea-wolf smitten
As Hallgrim sayeth soothly.
Then they went up to the boat-house, and found
their fellows, who greeted them well. Then asked
Eyjulf Valbrandson if they should slay the thralls ;
but Howard said that the slaying of thralls was no
revenge for Olaf his son. " Let them abide here
to-night, and watch that none steal aught of the
Then Hallgrim asked what to do now, and
Howard answered : " We will take the cutter and
all we deem of avail, and make for under Moon-
berg to see Liot the champion : somewhat of a
revenge were there in such a man as that, if we
might get it done."
So they take the cutter and manifold good things
of those kinsmen, and row out along the firth, and
up to Moonberg. Then spake Howard : "Now
must we fare wisely. Liot is well ware of himself,
for he hath ever feuds on hand ; he hath watch
held over him every night, and lieth in a shut-bed
bolted every night : an earth-house is there under
the sleeping-chamber, and the mouth of the same
Howard the Halt. 39
cometh up at the back of the houses, and many
men he hath with him."
Then said Torfi Valbrandson : " My rede it is
to bear fire to the stead, and burn every man's son
Howard said it should not be so : "But thou
and Hallgrim my kinsman shall be upon the house-
top to watch thence the mouth of the earth-house,
lest any go out thereby, thee I trust best for this :
here also be two doors in the front of the stead
and two doors to the hall : now shall Eyjulf and I
go in by one, and the brethren Odd and Thorir by
the other, and so into the hall : but thou Thorhall
shalt watch the cutter here, and defend it manly if
there be need thereof."
So when he had ordered them as he would, they
go up to the house. There stood a great out-
bower in the home-mead, and a man armed sat
under the wall thereof : so when they were drawn
nigh the same, the man sees them, and springs up
with the mind to give warning of their coming :
now Hallgrim went foremost of that company, and
he shot a spear after that man, and pinned him to
the house-wall, and there he died on the spear.
So then they went whither they were minded ;
Torfi and Hallgrim going to the outgate of the
40 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER XII. OF THE SLAYING OF LIOT THIO-
SO tells the tale that Howard went into the
hall ; light burned above, but below it was
dim : so he went into the bedchamber :
and as it happed the mistress was not yet gone to
bed, but was yet in the women's bower, and women
with her, and the bed-chamber was not locked. So
Howard smote with the flat of his sword on the
door, and Liot waked therewith, and asked who
made that clatter, and so master Howard named
" Why art thou there, carle Howard ? " said Liot,
" we were told the day before yesterday that thou
wert hard at death's door."
Howard answered : " Of another man's death
mayest thou first hear : for hearken, I tell thee of
the death of thy brethren, Thorbiorn and Sturla."
When he heard that, he sprang up in his bed, and
caught down a sword that hung over him, and cried
on the men in the hall to arise and take their
weapons : but Howard leapt up into the bed-
chamber, and smote Liot on the left shoulder ; but
Liot turned sharply therewith, and the sword
glanced from the shoulder, and tore down the arm,
and took it off at the elbow joint : Liot leapt forth
from the chamber with brandished sword, with the
mind to hew down Howard ; but then was Eyjulf
come up, and he smote him on the right shoulder,
and struck off his hand, and there they slew Liot.
Then arose great uproar in the hall, and Liot's
house-carles would stand up and take to their
Howard the Halt. 41
weapons ; but now were Thorbrand's sons come in,
and here and there men got a scratch or a knock.
Then spake Howard : " Let all be as quiet as may
be, and do ye no manner of mischief, or else will
we slay every man's son of you, one on the heels
of the other."
So they deemed it better to be all quiet ; nor
had they much sorrow of Liot's death, though they
were of his house.
So those fellows turned away, nor would Howard
do more therein. Torfi and Hallgrim came to
meet them, for they were about going in ; and they
asked what had been done ; so Howard sang a
Wrought good work Geirdi's offspring
On grove of water's sunshine,
Beheld I Knott there brandish
The blood-ice sharp and bitter ;
Eyjolf was fain of edge-play
With eager kin of warriors ;
The wary one, the well-known
Would deal out flame of war-sheen.
Then they went down to the cutter, and Thor-
hall greeted them well there.
Torfi Valbrandson asked what to do now. Said
Howard : " Now shall we seek after some safe-
guard ; for though the revenge be not as great as
I would, yet shall we not be able to keep ourselves
after this work ; for there are many of Thorbiorn's
kin of great account : and the likeliest thing I deem
it to go to Steinthor of Ere ; for he of all men has
promised to help me in my need."
So they all bade him look to it, and they would
do his will, and not depart from him till he deemed
42 The Saga Library.
it meet. So then they put forth into the firth and
lay hard on their oars, but Howard sat by the
tiller. Then spake Hallgrim, bidding Howard
sing somewhat ; and he sang :
How have all we, O Hallgrim,
Well wreaked a mighty vengeance
On Thiodrek's son ! full surely
We never shall repent it.
For Thorbiorn's sake the ship-lords
In storm of steel were smitten ;
And I wot that the people's wasters
Yet left would fain repay us.
CHAPTER XIII. OF THOSE FELLOWS AND STEINTHOR
OF their voyage is nought to tell till they
come to Ere ; and it was then the time of
day whenas Steinthor was sitting at table
with his men : so they went into the hall with their
weapons, four in company ; and Howard went
before Steinthor, and greeted him ; Steinthor took
his greeting well, and asked who he was, and he
said he was called Howard.
" Wert thou in our booth last summer ? "
He said that so it was. Then said Steinthor :
" Lads, have ye seen any man less like to what
he is now than the man he was then ? Meseems he
might scarce go staffless from booth to booth, and
we deemed him like to be a man bedridden, such
grief of heart lay upon him : but now a wight man
under weapons he seemeth to be. What ! tell ye
any tidings ? "
Howard answered: "Tidings we tell of: the
Howard the Halt. 43
slaying of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, and his brethren
Liot and Sturla, sons of Thiodrek, of Brand the
Strong and the seven of them."
Steinthor answered : " Great tidings ye tell : who
is it hath done this, and smitten down these the
greatest of champions, these so mighty men ? "
Howard spake and said that he and his kinsmen
had done it. Then spake Steinthor, and asked
where Howard would seek for safeguard after such
great deeds. Said Howard : " I was minded for
that which has now come to pass, to wit, to come
unto thee, for methought thou saidst last summer
at the Thing that if ever I needed some little help
I should come to thee no later than to other
Steinthor answered : " I know not when thou
mayest deem thyself in want of great help if now
thou deemest thy need but a little one ; but thou
mightest well think that I were no good friend
in need, if I were slow to answer thee herein :
neither shall it be so. I will bid thee, Howard, to
abide here with thy fellows till this matter is
brought to an end ; and I promise to right your
case for you all : for meseemeth ye are such men,
that he will have the better part who taketh you to
him ; nor is it sure that such doughty men as ye be
are lightly to be gotten : forsooth matters have
gone herein more according to right than according
Then sang Howard a stave :
Due is it for the dealers
Of Firth's-sun to be stirring
If they be fain to further
44 The Saga Library.
The folk of Valkyrs' fire ;
For the pride of Icefirth people
Men tell hath had a down -fall
By a blow that bodeth unpeace,
By sackless sword-stems smitten.
They thanked Steinthor for his noble bidding ;
and he bade take their clothes and weapons, and
get them dry clothes ; and when Howard did off
his helm, and put his byrny from him, he sang :
Laughed the lords of bloodwolf
Loud about my sorrow
When with steel-shower smitten
Fell my son the well-loved.
Well, since Odin's woodmen
Went along the death-road
Echoeth o'er the mountains.
Steinthor bade Howard go to the bench and sit
over against him, and to marshal those fellows be-
side him, and Howard did so, marshalling his kins-
man Hallgrim inward from him, and then inward
yet sit Thorbrand's sons Thorir and Odd ; but out-
ward from Howard sit Torfi and Eyjulf, the sons
of Valbrand, then Thorhall, and then the homemen
who sat there afore.
And when they sat down Howard sang a stave :
In this house, O Hallgrim,
We shall have abiding ;
War-gale we deny not
Warriors' wrath that bringeth ;
Yet that slaying surely
Unto straw shall tumble
Scarce for those spear-heeders
Shall I spend my substance.
Then said Steinthor : " Easy to hear of thee that
Howard the Halt. 45
things are going after thy will ; and so forsooth
would it be, if there were no blood-feud after such
bold and mighty men as were those kinsmen all ;
who have left behind them such great men to follow
up the feud."
Howard said that he heeded not the feud, and
that there was an end from henceforth of sorrow
or grief in his heart, neither should he think any
end to the case aught but well. He was as glad
and merry with every child of man there as if he
were young again. Now are these tidings heard
of far and wide, and were deemed to have fallen
out clean contrary to what was like to have been.
So there they sat at eve with master Steinthor
lacking neither plenteous company nor goodly
cheer; and there were no fewer there than sixty men
defensible. Leave we them now a-sitting at Ere
with master Steinthor in good welcome, and costly
CHAPTER XIV. OF THE SLAYING OF HOLMGANG-LIOT.
LIOT was the name of a man who dwelt at
Redsand ; he was called Holmgang-Liot :
he was both big and strong, and the greatest
of Holmgang- fighters. Thorbiorn Thiodrekson had
had his sister to wife : it is said of him that he was
a most unjust man, who had had his axe in the
head of every man who would not yield all to his
will ; nor was there any who might hold his head
up in freedom against him all around Redsand, and
far and wide otherwhere.
Now there was one called Thorbiorn, who dwelt
46 The Saga Library.
at a stead called Ere, a man well stricken in years,
a wealthy man, but of no great heart : two sons he
had, one called Grim, and the other Thorstein.
Now as tells the tale, Liot and Thorbiorn had a
water-meadow in common, a right good possession,
which was so divided betwixt them that they should
have it summer and summer about : but the brook
which flooded the meadow in spring ran below
Liot's house, and there were water-hatches therein,
and all was well arrayed. But so it fell out that
whensoever it was Thorbiorn's turn for the meadow
he gat no water, and at last it came to this, that
Liot gave out that the meadow was none of Thor-
biorn's, and he were best not dare to claim it ; and
when Thorbiorn heard that, he deemed well that
Liot would keep his word. It was but a little way
between their houses, so on a day they met, and
Thorbiorn asked Liot if he would verily take his
meadow from him. Liot answered and bade him
speak not another word of it : "It is not for thee
any more than for others to go whining against
what I will have ; do one of two things : either be
well content with my will herein, or I drive thee
away from thine own, and thou wilt have neither
the meadow nor aught else."
So when Thorbiorn saw Liot's injustice, and
whereas he had wealth and to spare, he bought the
meadow at Liot's own price, paying him sixty hun-
dreds then and there ; wherewith they parted.
But when those lads his sons heard hereof, they
were full evil content, saying that it was the greatest
robbery of their heritage to have to buy what was
Howard the Halt. 47
And this thing was heard of far and wide.
Now those brethren kept their father's sheep.
Thorstein being of twelve winters, and Grim of
ten : and on a day in the early winter they went
to the sheep-houses ; for there had been a great
snow-storm, and they would wot whether all the
sheep were come home. Now herewith it befell that
Liot had gone that morning to see to his drifts ;
for he was a man busy in his matters ; so just as
the lads came to the sheep-house they saw how
Liot came up from the sea shore ; then spake Grim
to Thorstein his brother : "Seest thou Holmgang-
Liot yonder, coming up from the sea ? "
" How may I fail to see him ?" said Grim.
Then said Thorstein : ' Great wrong hath he
done to us and to others, and I have it in my mind
to avenge it if I might."
Said Grim : " An unwise word that thou wouldst
do a mischief to such a champion as is Liot, a man
mightier than four or five men might deal with,
even were they full-grown : this is no game for
children." Thorstein answered : " It availeth not
to stay me, I will follow him all the same ; but thou
art likest to thy father, and wilt be a robbing-stock
for Liot like many others."
Grim answered : " Whereas this hath got into
thy head, kinsman, for as little avail as I may be
to thee, I will help thee all I may." " Then is it well
done of thee," said Thorstein, "and maybe that
things will follow our right" Now, they bore hand-
axes little but sharp. There they stand, and bide
till Liot makes for the sheep-house : he passed by
them quickly, having a poleaxe in his hand, and
48 The Saga Library.
so went on his way, making as if he saw not the
lads ; but when he was even passing by them
Thorstein smote on his shoulder ; the axe bit not,
but so great was the stroke that the arm was put
out of joint at the shoulder. But when Liot saw
(as he deemed) that the lads would bait him, he
turned on them, and hove up his axe to smite
Thorstein ; but even as he hove it aloft, ran Grim
in on him, and smote the hand from him above the
wrist, and down fell hand and axe together. Short
space then they left betwixt their strokes ; nor is
aught more likely to be told hereof, than that there
fell Holmgang-Liot, and neither of them hurt.
So they buried him in the snowdrift and left
him there ; and when they came home their father
was out in the doorway; and he asked them what
made them so late, and why their clothes were
They told of the slaying of Liot. He asked if
they had slain him ; and they said that so it was.
Then said he : " Get ye gone, luckless wretches !
ye have wrought a most unhappy deed, and have
slain the greatest of lords and our very chieftain ;
and this withal have ye brought to pass, that I shall
be driven from my lands and all that I have, and
ye will be slain, and that is right well."
And therewith he rushed out away from the
Said Grim : " Let us have nothing to do with
the old devil, so loathly as he goeth on ! to hear
how he goeth on, the sneaking wretch ! "
Thorstein answered : " Nay, let us go find him,
for I doubt me he is nought so wroth as he would
Howard the Halt. 49
make believe." So they go to him, and Thorbiorn
spake gladly to them, and bade them bide him there ;
then he went home, and was away but a little while
till he came back with two horses well arrayed ; so
he bade them leap a-horseback. " I will send you,"
said he, "to Steinthor of Ere, my friend, whom ye
shall bid to take you in ; and here is a gold ring, a
right dear thing, which ye shall give him : he hath
oft asked me for it, and never got it, but now it shall
be free to him because of your necessity." Then the
old man kissed his sons, and bade them to fare well,
and that they might all meet again safe and sound.
Nought is told of their journey till they came unto
Ere betimes of a morning ; so they went into the
hall, and it was all hung about and both benches
were full, and neither game nor glee was lacking.
They went before Steinthor and greeted him well,
and well he took their greeting, and asked them
who they were ; so they told of their names and of
their father, and withal Thorstein said : " Here is a
ring which my father sendeth thee, and therewithal
his greeting, and biddeth thee give us quarters this
winter, or longer, if we need it."
Steinthor took the ring, and said : " Tell ye any
tidings ? "
They said : " The slaying of Liot, and we have
Steinthor answered : " Lo here another wonder,
that two little lads should make an end of such a
champion as was Liot ! and what was his guilt ? "
They said what they deemed thereof. Steinthor
said : " My rede it is that ye go across the floor up
to Howard, the hoary carle who sits right over
5o The Saga Library.
against me, and ask of him whether he will or will
not take you into his company."
So do they, and go before Howard ; he greeted
them well, and asked for tidings, making as if he had
not heard, and they told him the very innermost
thereof; and when their tale was done, Howard
sprang up to meet them, and sang a stave :
Ye, O fir-stems of the fight-sun,
Thank we now for manly service ;
Men by valiant deeds left luckless
Do I love, and ye are loved.
Of all men on mould abiding
Do I deem his slaughter meetest ;
Let this fearful word go flying
To my foemen of the westward.
Howard gave those brethren place outward from
himself, and they sat there glad and merry.
These tidings are heard all about Redsand, and
far and wide otherwhere. Liot was found dead
there under the wall ; and folk went to Thorbiorn
and asked him thereof, and Thorbiorn denied not
that his sons had slain him. But whereas Liot was
unbeloved in Redsand, and that Thorbiorn said he
had taken their deed amiss and driven them away,
wherein the home-men bore him out, there was no
taking up of the feud as at that time ; and Thor-
biorn sat at home in peace.
Howard the Halt. 51
CHAPTER XV. STEINTHOR GOES TO SEEK STORES IN
FALL we now to telling how they sit all to-
gether at Ere well holden ; very costly it
was unto Steinthor, so many men as he had,
and so much as he must expend in his bounteous
Now there was a man named Atli, who dwelt at
Otterdale, and was wedded to a sister of Steinthor
of Ere, Thordis to wit ; he was the smallest of men,
a very mannikin, and it was said of him that his
mind was even as his body, and that he was the
greatest of misers ; yet was he come of great men,
and was so rich that he might scarce tell his wealth ;
and Thordis, Steinthor's sister, had been wedded to
him for his wealth's sake.
As goes the tale the house at Otterdale was far
from the highway, and stood on the other side of
the firth over against Ere.
Atli was not free enough of his money to keep
workmen ; he himself worked night and day all he
might, and he was so self-willed, that he would have
nought to do with other men either for good or ill.
He was the greatest husbandman, and had a big
store-house, wherein were all kinds of goods : there
were huge piles of dried fish and all kinds of flesh-
meat, and cheese and all things needful, and in that
house had he made his bed, and he and his wife slept
there every night.
Now tells the tale that on a morning was Stein-
thor early afoot, and he went to Howard's bed, and
took him by the foot and bade him stand up ; and
52 The Saga Library.
Howard sprang up speedilyand forth on to the floor,
and when he was arisen his fellows stood up one
after another, even as their wont was, that all went
whithersoever one had need to go ; and when they
were all arrayed they went forth into the home-mead,
where was Steinthor with certain of his men. Then
said Howard: " Weare ready,master,tofarewhither-
so thou wilt have us; and we will follow thee
heartily, recking or reckless ; but that is left me of
my pride, that I go not on any journey but if I wot
whither I be going."
Steinthor said : " I would fare to Atli my brother-
in-law, and I would have you bear me fellowship on
So they went down to the sea, where was the
cutter they had taken from Thorbiorn ; so they ran
it out and took to their oars, and rowed out into the
firth. But Steinthor deemed that that company
took all things with hardy heart
That morning master Atli arose up early and
went from his bed ; he was so clad, that he had on
a white doublet, short and strait. The man was not
speedy of foot ; he was both a starveling and foul of
favour, bald and sunken-eyed. He went out and
looked at the weather ; it was cold and very frosty.
Now he saw a boat faring thitherward over the firth,
and nigh come to shore, and he knew master Stein-
thor his brother-in-law, and was ill-content thereat.
There was a garth in the home-mead, standing
somewhat out into the fields ; therein stood a hay-
stack drawn together from all about : so what must
Atli do but run into the garth, and tumble the hay
stack down on himself and lie thereunder.
Howard the Halt. 53
But of Steinthor and that company it is to be
told that they come aland and go up to the house,
and when they came to the store-house Thordis
sprang up and greeted well her brother and all of
them, and said he was seldom seen there. Stein-
thor asked where was Atli his brother-in-law ; and
she said he was gone out but a little while ; so
Steinthor bade seek him, and they sought him about
the stead and found him not, and so came back and
told Steinthor. Then said Thordis : " What wilt
thou of us, kinsman ? " He answered : " I was
deeming that Atli would have given or sold me some
Said she : " Meseemeth I have no less to do
herewith than Atli ; and I will that thou have hence
what thou wilt." He said that he would take that
willingly ; so they clear out the store-house, and
bear what was in it down aboard the cutter till it was
laden with all kinds of good things. Then said Stein-
thor : " Now shall ye go back home with the cutter,
but I will abide behind with my sister ; for I am fain
to see how my brother-in-law Atli bears himself
when he cometh back."
" Meseems, kinsman," said Thordis, " there is no
good in this ; it will be nothing merry to hear him.
But do as thou wilt ; only thou shalt promise me to
be no worse friend to Atli than before, whatsoever
he may say or do."
Steinthor said yea to this ; and so she set him
behind certain hangings where none might see him,
but the others went their ways back home with the
cutter ; they had rough weather on the firth, and
shipped many seas before they came to land.
54 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER XVI. OF ATLI THE LITTLE AND HIS
TURN we now to Atli lying under the hay-
stack, who, when he saw them depart from
the shore, crept out from under the stack,
and was so stiff that he might scarce stand up ; he
drags himself home to the store-house, and every
tooth in his head chattered again ; he stared wide
and wild round about, and seeth that the store-
house hath been cleared ; then saith he : " What
robbers have been here ?"
Thordis answered : " None have robbed here ;
but here have been Steinthor my brother, and his
men, and I have given them what thou callest
Atli answered : " Of all things I shall rue most
that ever I wedded thee ; wretched man that I am
for that wedding ! I wot of none worse than is
Steinthor thy brother, nor greater robbers than
they of his house. Now is all taken and stolen and
harried from me, so that we shall soon have to
take to the road."
Then said Thordis : " We shall never lack for
wealth : come thou to bed and let me warm thee
somewhat, for meseems thou art wondrous cold."
So he crawled under the bedclothes to her.
Steinthor deemed his brother-in-law a very starve-
ling : he had nought on his feet ; his cowl was
pulled over his head, and came nowhere down
So Atli nestles under the clothes beside her, and
is mad of speech, ever scolding at Steinthor, and
Howard the Halt. 55
calling him a robber. Then he was silent for
But when he waxed warm, then said he ; " Sooth
to say, I have a great treasure in thee, and truly
no such a noble-minded man may be found as is
Steinthor my brother-in-law, and that is well be-
stowed which he hath gotten ; it is even as if I had
And so he went on a long while praising Stein-
thor. Then Steinthor came forth to the bed, and
Atli seeth him, and standeth up and greeteth him.
Then said Steinthor : " What thinkest thou,
brother-in-law Atli, have we cleared out thy store-
house ? "
Atli answered : " It is most sooth that all is best
bestowed which thou hast, and I bid thee take all
thou wilt of my goods, for nought is lacking here :
thou hast done as most befitteth a chieftain in
taking to thee those men who have wreaked their
griefs, and thou wilt be minded to see them through
it as a great man should."
Said Steinthor : " Atli, I will bid thee be nought
so miserly as thou hast been hitherto ; live thy life
well, and get thee workmen, and mingle with men ;
I know thee for no paltry man, though thou makest
thyself such for perverseness sake."
Atli promised this; and Steinthor went home
that day, and the brothers-in-law parted in all kind-
ness. Steinthor cometh home to Ere, and deemeth
he hath sped well. There they sit at home now,
and the winter wears : there were holden sturdy
skin-plays and hall-plays.
56 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER XVII. MEN GET READY FOR THE THING.
THERE was one Swart, a thrall at Ere, a
big man, and so strong that he had four
men's might; he was handy about the
stead, and did much work. Now on a day Stein-
thor let call this thrall to him, and said : " They
will have thee in the game with us to-day, for we
lack a man." Swart answered : " It is idle to bid
me this, for I have much work to do, and I deem
not that thy champions will do it for me ; yet I will
grant thee this if thou wilt."
So saith it that Hallgrim was matched against
Swart, and the best one may tell of it is, that every
time they fell to, Swart went down, and after every
fall his shoes came off, and he would be a long
while binding them on again. This went on for
long in the day, and men made great jeering and
laughter thereat ; but Howard sang a stave :
The lords of sea-king's stallion,
Valbrand's sons the doughty,
Nought so long they louted
Low o'er shoe-thongs, mind we,
When we went, O Valkyr,
Toward my son's avenging,
And Gylfi's garth swelled round me
On that day of summer.
The play was of the best. Hallgrim was then
eighteen winters old, and was deemed like to be a
most doughty man by then he came to his full
So sayeth it that the winter wore, and nought
befell to tell of, yea and until they were ready to go
to the Thing.
Howard the Halt. 57
Steinthor said he knew not what he would do
for those fellows ; he would not have them with
him to the Thing, and he thought it not good to
let them abide at his house the while. But a
few days before the Thing he and Atli his brother-
in-law met, and Atli asked what he was minded to
do with his guests while the Thing lasted. Stein-
thor said he knew not where he could bestow them,
so as to be unafraid for them : " Unless thou take
them." Atli said : " I will bind myself to take these
men." " Thou dost well therein," said Steinthor.
Said Atli : " I will help thee in all thou wilt, so far
as my might goeth."
" Right well I trust thee so to do," said Steinthor.
CHAPTER XVIII. MEN RIDE TO THE THING.
AFTER this Howard and his fellows went
their ways with Atli, and came to Otter-
dale, and there Atli welcomed Howard
with both hands. Nought lacked there that they
needed, and Atli made them the most goodly feast :
there were ten stout men there now. Atli cleared
out the store-house, and made their beds there, and
hung up their weapons, and all was arrayed in the
But Steinthor summoned men to him, and lacked
neither for friends nor kin, and with great men also
was he allied : so he rode to the Thing with three
hundred men, all which were his Thingmen, kin,
friends, or men allied to him.
58 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER XIX. OF THE MEN OF DYRAFIRTH.
THERE was a man hight Thorarin, the
priest of Dyrafirth in the west country, a
great chief, and somewhat stricken in years.
He was the brother of those sons of Thiodrek, but
by far the thoughtfullest and wisest of them. He
had heard of these tidings and of the slaying of his
brethren and kinsmen, and deemed himself nigh
touched by it, and that he might not sit idle in the
matter whereas the blood-feud fell to him most of
all. So before folk rode to the Thing, he sum-
moned to him the men of Dyrafirth, his friends
and kinsfolk. There was one Dyri, next of account
after Thorarin the priest, and a great friend of his ;
Thorgrim was the name of his son, a man full
grown at this time : it is told of him that he was
both big and strong, and a wizard of the cunningest,
who dealt much in spells. Now when Thorarin
laid this matter before his friends, they were of one
accord in this, that Thorarin and Dyri should ride
to the Thing with two hundred men ; but Thor-
grim, Dyri's son, offered himself to compass the
slaying of Howard, and all those kinsmen and fel-
lows : he said how the word went that Steinthor of
Ere had held them through the winter, and that he
had promised to uphold their case at law to the
uttermost against such as had the blood-feud after
Thorgrim said that he knew how Steinthor was
ridden from home, a great company, to the Thing,
and that those fellows were gotten to Otterdale to
Atli the Miser, brother-in-law of Steinthor : "And
Howard the Halt. 59
there is nought to hinder our slaying them one on
the heels of the other."
So this rede was taken, that Thorgrim should
ride from home with eighteen men : of whose
journey is nought to tell till they come to Atli's
stead in Otterdale early of a morning, and ride into
a hollow whence they might not be seen from the
house ; then bade Thorgrim to light down, and
they did so, and baited their horses ; but Thorgrim
said that he was so sleepy that he might not sit
up, so he slept with a skin drawn over his head,
and was ill at ease in his sleep.
CHAPTER XX. OF ATLI S DREAMING.
NOW must we take up the tale of what
they were about in the house at Otter-
dale : they slept in the store-house that
night according to wont, and in the morning they
were waked, because Atli in his sleep laboured so,
that none of them might sleep because of it ; for
he tossed about and breathed heavily, and beat
about with hand and foot in the bed ; till Torfi
Valbrandson leapt up and woke him, saying that
they might not sleep for him and his goings on.
Then sat up Atli, stroking his bald head.
Howard asked if aught had been shown to him,
and he said verily it was so : " Methought I
went forth from the store-house, and I saw how
wolves ran over the wold from the south eighteen
in company, and before the wolves went a vixen
fox, and so sly a creature as was that, saw I never
erst ; exceeding ogre-like was it and evil ; it peered
60 The Saga Library.
all about, and would have its eyes on everything,
and right grimly methought all the beasts did
look. But even as they were come to the stead Torfi
woke me ; and well I wot that these are fetches of
men ; so stand we up straightway."
Nor did Atli depart from his wont, but sprang
up and cast his cape on him, and so out as swift as
a bolt is shot, while they take their weapons and
clothes and array themselves at their briskest ; and
when they were well-nigh dight, cometh Atli back
clad in a strong byrny, and with a drawn sword in
his hand ; then spake Atli : " Most like it is that
it falleth out now as many guessed it would, to
wit, that it would avail not Steinthor my brother-
in-law to find you a harbour here ; but I pray you
to let me rule in what now lies before us ; and first
it is my rede that we go out under the house-wall,
and let them not gore us indoors ; as for fleeing
away, I deem that hath not come into your heads."
And they say that so it shall be.
CHAPTER XXI. OF THE OTTERDALERS.
TELL we now how Thorgrim woke, and was
waxen hot ; then spake he : "I have been
up to the house and about it awhile ; but
all was so dim to me that I wot not what shall be-
fall me ; yet let us go home to the house : meseems
we should burn them in, so may we the speediest
bring the end about."
So they take their weapons, and fare into the
home-mead. And when Atli and his fellows saw
the men, Atli said : " Here be come the Dyra-
Howard the Halt. 61
firthers, I think, with Thorgrim, Dyri's son, at the
head of them, the worst man and the greatest
wizard in Dyrafirth ; he is the most friend of
Thorarin, who has the blood-feud for Thorbiorn his
brother : now I am minded, as unlike as it may
seem, to go against Thorgrim ; but thee, Howard,
I will have to do deal with two, for thou art proven,
and a great champion. To Hallgrim thy kinsman
I allot those twain who are stoutest ; to Torfi and
Eyjulf, Valbrand's sons, I allot four ; and to Thor-
brand's sons, Odd and Thorir, other four ; to Thor-
biorn's sons, Grim and Thorstein, I allot three, and
to Thorhall and my house-carle each one his man."
So when Atli had ordered them as he would,
Thorgrim and his men come on from the south
toward the house ; and they see that things have
gone otherwise than they looked for, and that men
are standing there with weapons, ready to deal
with them ; then said Thorgrim : " Who may
know but that Atli the craven hath more shifts
than we wotted of ; yet all the same shall we go
Then men fell on as they had been ordered ;
and the first onset was of Atli the Little against
Thorgrim, smiting at him two-handed with his
sword ; but never it bit on him. So a while
they smote, and never bit the sword on Thorgrim.
Then said Atli : " As a troll art thou, Thorgrim,
and not as a man, that the iron biteth not on thee."
Thorgrim answered: " How durst thou say such
things, whereas I hewed on thee e'en now at my
best, and the sword bit not on thine evil pilled pate."
Then seeth Atli that things will not go well on
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this wise ; so he casteth by his sword, and runneth
under Thorgrim's hands, and casteth him down on
the field. Now is there no weapon beside him,
and he knew that the odds were great between
them, so he grovelleth down on him, and biteth the
throat of him asunder, and then draggeth him to
where his sword lay, and smiteth the head from off
him. Then he looked round about wide-eyed, and
saw that Howard had slain one of those whom he had
to deal with. Thither ran Atli first, and for no long
while they gave and took before the man fell dead.
Hallgrim had slain both those he had to deal with,
and Torfi in likewise : Eyjulf had slain one of his :
Thorir and Odd had slain three, and one was left :
Thorstein and Grim had slain two and left one :
Thorhall had slain his man ; but the house-carle
had not slain his. Then bade Howard to hold their
hands ; but Thorstein Thorbiornson said : " Our
father shall not have to hear west there in Redsand
that we brethren could not do our allotted day's
work as other men." And therewith he ran at
one of those with axe aloft and smote it into his
head that he gat his bane. Atli asked why not
slay them all ; but Howard said that was of no
use. Then Atli sat down and bade lead the men
before him ; then he shaved the hair from them
and polled them, and tarred them thereafter ; he
drew his knife from the sheath, and sheared the
ears from each of them, bidding them so ear-marked
go find Dyri and Thorarin ; and said that now
perchance they would mind them how they had
come across Atli the Little.
So they went thence, three of them, who had
Howard the Halt. 63
come there eighteen in company, stout men and
Now sang Howard a stave :
West and east is wafted
Word to Icefirth's dwellings,
Word of weapons reddened
In the spear-storm's waxing ;
Now for spear-play's speeding
Sped the war-lords hither,
Soothly small the matter
Unto sons of Valbrand.
Then they went their ways and buried the slain,
and thereafter gat them rest and peace even as
CHAPTER XXII. OF THE PEACE MADE AT THE THING.
TELL we now how men come to the Thing a
very many : many chieftains there were
and of great account : there were Guest
Oddleifson, and Steinthor of Ere, and Dyri and
So they fell all together to talking of the case,
and Steinthor was for Howard and his fellows, and
he craved peace for them, and Guest Oddleifson to
be judge, whereas the matter was fully known to
him ; and because they were well ware afore of
their privy dealings, they fell in to it gladly.
Then spake Guest : " Forasmuch as ye both
will have an award of me, I shall not be slow to
give it : and first we must turn back to what was
said last summer about the slaying of Olaf Howard-
son, for the which I award three man-fines; against
this shall the slaying be set of Sturla and Thiodrek
64 The Saga Library.
and Liot, who were slain quite sackless ; but Thor-
biorn Thiodrekson shall have fallen unatoned be-
cause of his injustice, and those his unheard-of
dealings with Howard, and many other ill-deeds :
unatoned also shall be Vakr and Scart, his sister's
sons ; but the slaying of Brand the Strong shall
be set against An's slaying, the fosterer of Hall-
grim : one man-fine shall be paid for the serving-
man of Liot of Moonberg, whom Howard and his
"So is it concerning the slaying of Holmgang-
Liot that I can award no atonement for him, for
plain to see is the wrongfulness of his dealings
with Thorbiorn, and all them over whom he might
prevail ; and according to right was it that two
little lads should slay such a champion as was Liot
Thorbiorn also shall have freely all the meadow
that they had in common. On the other hand, to
ease the mind of Thorarin, these men shall fare
abroad ; to wit : Hallgrim Asbrand's son, Torfi
and Eyjulf, sons of Valbrand, Thorir and Odd, sons
of Thorbrand, Thorstein and Grim, sons of Thor-
biorn : and whereas thou, Thorarin, art old ex-
ceedingly, they shall not come back before they
hear that thou art passed away ; but Howard shall
change his dwelling, and not abide in this quarter
of the land, and Thorhall his kinsman in likewise.
"Now will I that ye hold the peace well and
truly without guile on either side."
Then came Steinthor forth, and took peace for
Howard and all those fellows on the terms afore-
said by Guest ; and he paid also the hundred of
silver due. And Thorarin and Dyri stood forth in
Howard the Halt. 65
seeming manly wise, and were well content with
But when the case was ended, thither to the
Thing came those earless ones, and in the hearing
of all told what was betid in their journey. To all
seemed the tidings great, and yet that things had
gone as meet was : men deemed that Thorgrim
had thrust himself into enmity against them, and
had gotten but his due.
But now spake Guest : " Most sooth it is to say
that ye kinsmen are unlike to other men for evil
heart and unmanliness : how came it into thine
head, Thorarin, to make as if thou wouldst have
peace, and yet fare so guilefully ? But whereas I
have spoken somewhat afore, so that this thy case
might have a peaceful end, even so will I let it
abide according to my word and my judgment ;
though forsooth, ye Thorarin and Dyri, were well
worthy to come off the worser for your fraud's
sake ; for which cause indeed I will nevermore be
at your back in whatever case ye may have on
hand. But thou, Steinthor, be well content, for
henceforward I will help thee in thy cases, with
whomsoever thou hast to do ; for herein hast thou
fared well and manly."
Steinthor said that Guest should have his will
herein : " Meseemeth they have come to the worse,
losing many of their men, and their honour withal."
Therewith came the Thing to an end, and Guest
and Steinthor parted in all friendship, but Thorarin
and Dyri are very ill-pleased. So when Steinthor
came home he sent after the folk in Otterdale, and
when they met either told each other how they
66 The Saga Library.
had sped, and they deemed that things had gone
well considering the plight of matters.
They thanked Steinthor well for his furtherance,
and said withal that Atli his brother-in-law had
done well by them, and had been doughty of deeds
moreover, and they called him the valiantest of
fellows. So the greatest friendship grew up be-
tween the brethren-in-law, and Atli was holden
thenceforward for the doughtiest of men whereso-
ever he came.
CHAPTER XXIII. OF THE FEAST AT HOWARD S HOUSE.
AFTER these things fared Howard and all
of them home to Icefirth, and Biargey was
exceeding fain of them, and the fathers of
those brethren withal, who deemed themselves
grown young a second time. Then took Howard
such rede, that he arrayed a great feast, and his
house was great and noble, and nought was lacking
there : he bade thereto Steinthor of Ere, and Atli
his brother-in-law, Guest Oddleifson and all his
kindred and alliance. Great was the throng there,
and the feast of the fairest; there sat they alto-
gether a week's space joyful and merry.
Howard was a man very rich of all manner of
stock, and at the feast's ending he gave to Steinthor
thirty wethers and five oxen, a shield, a sword,
and a gold ring, the best of treasures. To Guest
Oddleifson he gave two gold rings and nine oxen :
to master Atli he gave good gifts : to the sons of
Valbrand, and the sons of Thorbrand, and the sons
of Thorbiorn he gave the best of gifts : good
Howard the Halt. 67
weapons to some, and other things to others.
To Hallgrim his kinsman gave he the sword
Warflame, and full array of war therewith exceeding
goodly. And he thanked them all for their good
service and doughty deeds. Good gifts withal he
gave to all that he had bidden thither, for he lacked
neither gold nor silver.
So after this feast rideth Steinthor home to Ere,
Guest to Bardstrand, and Atli to Otterdale ; and
now all part with the greatest love. But they who
had to fare abroad went west to Vadil, and thence
to sea in the summertide : they had a fair wind
and made Norway.
In those days Earl Hakon ruled over Norway.
So they were there the winter, and in spring got
them a ship and went a- warring, and became most
famous men. This was their business for certain
seasons, and then they fared out hither whenas
Thorarin was dead ; great men they became, and
much are they told of in tale here in the land, and
far and wide otherwhere.
So leave we to tell of them.
CHAPTER XXIV. HOW HOWARD DIED FULL OF YEARS
BUT of Howard it is told that he sold his
lands, and they went their ways north to
Swarfadardale, and up into a dale called
Oxdale. There he built a house, and abode there
certain winters, calling that stead Howardstead.
But within certain winters heard Howard these
tidings, that Earl Hakon was dead, and King Olaf
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Trygvison come to the land and gotten to be sole
king over Norway, and that he set forth new beliefs
and true. So when Howard heard hereof he broke
up his household, and fared out with Biargey and
Thorhall his kinsman. They came to King Olaf
and he gave them good welcome. There was
Howard christened with all his house, and abode
there that winter well accounted of by King Olaf.
That same winter died Biargey ; but the next summer
Howard and Thorhall his kinsman fared out to Ice-
land. Howard had out with him church-wood ex-
ceeding big : he set up house in the nether part of
Thorhallsdale, and abode there no long time before
he fell sick ; then he called to him Thorhall his
kinsman, and spake : " Things have come to this
that I am sick with the sickness that will bring me
to my death ; so I will that thou take the goods
after me, whereof I wish thee joy ; for thou hast
served me well and given me good fellowship.
Thou shalt flit thine house to the upper part of
Thorhallsdale and there shalt thou build a church,
wherein I would be buried."
So when he had ordered things as he would, he
died a little after.
Thorhall fell to speedily, and brought his house
up the dale, and made a goodly stead there, and
called it Thorhallstead : he wedded well, and many
men are come from him ; and there he dwelt till
Moreover it is said that when Christ's faith came
to Iceland Thorhall let make a church of that wood
which Howard had brought out hither.
The stateliest house was that, and therein was
Howard the Halt. 69
set Howard's grave, and he was held for a very
Wherewith make we an end of this tale as for
THE BANDED MEN.
. . .. ..1 J . ^ J .. . . T ... . . . ... ... ,.- ... ..
THE BANDED MEN.
CHAPTER I. OF UFEIG AND ODD HIS SON.
A MAN named Ufeig dwelt westaway in
Midfirth, at a stead called Reeks : he was
the son of Skidi, and his mother was called
Gunnlaug, whose mother was Jarngerd, daughter
of Ufeig Jarngerdson, of the Skards in the north
country. Ufeig was wedded to a woman called
Thorgerd, daughter of Vali ; she came of great
kin, and was a stirring woman. Ufeig was a wise
man, and full of good counsel ; he was great-hearted
in all wise, but unhandy at money-getting ; great
and wide lands he had, but was scant of chattels ;
he spared not to give his meat to any, yet mostly
was it got by borrowing what was needed for the
household; he was thingman of Styrmirof Asgeir's-
water, who was then held for the greatest chief
west away there.
Ufeig had a son by his wife named Odd, a goodly
man, and of fair mien from his youth up, but small
love he had from his father ; he was but a sorry
handy-craftsman. One named Vali also grew up
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in Ufeig's house ; he was a goodly man, and a well-
So Odd grew up in his father's house till he was
twelve winters old, and mostly Ufeig had little to
do with him, and loved him little ; but the report
of men ran that none of that country was of better
conditions than Odd. On a time fell Odd to talk
with his father, and craved of him help in money :
" For I would depart hence : things have come to
this," said he, "that of thee get I little honour, and
to thee give I little help."
Ufeig answers : " I will not lay down for thee
less than thou deservest ; and I will go as close as
I can to that, and then thou wilt know what avail
it will be to thee."
Odd said that that would be but little to lean
upon, and thus their speech had end. But the next
day Odd takes a line down from the wall, and a
set of fishing gear, and twelve ells of wadmal, and
so goes his ways with no farewell to any. He fared
out to Waterness, and fell into the company of fisher-
men, and craved of them such outfit as he needed
most, either to borrow or to buy on credit ; so that
when they knew he was of good kin, and whereas
he himself was a lad well-liked, they risked trust-
ing him ; so he bought all on credit, and abode
there certain seasons a-fishing ; and it is told that
their luck was ever at its best with whom was
So he was there three winters and three summers,
and was by then gotten so far, that he had paid
back all that he had borrowed, and had gained for
himself a good trading penny withal. He never
The Banded Men. 75
went to see his father, and either of them went on
as if he were nought akin to the other : he was well
liked of his fellows.
So as it fell out he took to carrying goods north to
the Strands, and bought himself the use of a keel,
and so gathered goods : so his wealth increased
speedily, till he owned the keel himself, and plied
therewith between Midfirth and the Strands for cer-
tain summers, and now began to grow rich. At last
he waxed weary of this work, and bought a share in
a ship and fared abroad, and is now trading awhile,
and still he did well therein, and flourished, and now
hath won both wealth and the good report of men.
This business he followed till he owned a ship
of burden and the more part of its lading, and still
he went a-trading, and became a man of great
wealth and good renown : oft was he with lords
and men of dignity in the Outlands, and was well
accounted of wheresoever he was. Now he became
so rich that he had two ships of burden a-trading,
and as folk tell, no chapman of his day was so
wealthy as Odd, and in his seafaring was luckier
than other men. He never laid his ship northward
of Eyiafirth or westward of Ramfirth.
CHAPTER II. OF USPAK S COMING TO ODD.
THE tale tells that on a certain summer Odd
brought his ship to Boardere in Ramfirth
with intent to abide there through the
winter : there was he bidden of his friends to settle
at home in the land, and he did according to their
desire, and bought land at Mel in Midfirth : there
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he set up a great household, and became bounteous
in his housekeeping, which, as folk say, was deemed
of no less worth than his seafaring aforetime ;
neither was any man so renowned as was Odd in
all the north country. He did better with his
wealth than most men ; a liberal man to such as had
need and were anigh him ; yet did he nought for
the comfort of his father : his ship he laid up in
Men say for sure that no man of Iceland was
ever so wealthy as was Odd ; yea, that he had no
less than any three of the richest ; in every wise
was his wealth huge ; in gold and in silver, in land
and in live-stock. Vali his kinsman abode with
him, whether he were at home or abroad. So Odd
abides at his house in all this honour aforesaid.
There was a man named Glum, who dwelt at
Skridinsenni, betwixt Bitra and Kollafirth : his
wife's name was Thordis ; she was the daughter of
Asmund, the Long-hoary, father of Grettir the
Strong : their son was Uspak, a man great of growth
and strong, ill to deal with, and masterful; in his early
days he began to go a-ferrying wares between the
Strands and the north-country; he was a well-grown
man, and soon became mighty of body. One summer
he came to Midfirth and sold his take there ; and
on a day he gets him a horse, and rides up to Mel
and there meets Odd ; they greeted each other and
asked for the common tidings, and Uspak said :
" So goes it, Odd, that folk speak well of thy ways,
and thou art much praised of men, and all deem
themselves well-housed who are with thee ; such
luck am I hoping for, for I would dwell with thee."
The Banded Men. 77
Odd answered: " But thou art not much praised
of men, nor art thou well-beloved : men deem that
there is guile under thy brow, even as it was with
thy kin before thee."
Answereth Uspak : " Prove it by trial, and take
it not on hearsay of others; for few are better
spoken of than their deserts : nor am I asking for
a gift ; I would have house-room of thee, but I will
keep myself ; so try how thou wilt like it." Odd
answers : " Mighty are thy kin, and hard to reach
if ye take it into your heads to turn on me ; but
whereas thou art earnest with me to take thee in, I
will risk it for the space of one winter."
So Uspak took that with thanks, and went in
the harvest-tide to Mel with his goods, and soon
became friendly with Odd : he was of good avail
about the stead, doing as much work as any two
others, and Odd liked him well.
So wears the time, and in spring Odd bids him
abide there, saying that he deemed it better so :
Uspak was fully willing, and so he takes to over-
looking the house, and things go on exceeding well,
and folk make much to do about how well the man
goes on ; and he was in good favour with folk.
So standeth that house fair flourishing, and no
man's fortune was deemed more worth than Odd's :
one thing only seemed lacking for the fulfilment
of his honour, a priesthood to wit : but in those
days it was the custom for men to set up a new
priesthood, or to buy one, and even so did Odd
now : he speedily gathered thingmen to him, for
all were fain of him. So are things quiet awhile.
78 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER III. OF USPAK S DEALING WITH ODD.
ODD took Uspak to his heart, and let him
pretty much rule over the household ; he
worked both hard and much, and was use-
ful about the house.
So wears the winter, and Odd liked Uspak even
better than before, because he took yet more things
in hand. In harvest-tide he fetched in the sheep
from the mountains, and they were well brought in,
with none missing.
So weareth winter into spring, and then Odd
gives out that he is going abroad in the summer,
and says that his kinsman Vali shall take the
household to him ; but Vali answers : " So falls it,
kinsman, that I am not used to this, and I were
liefer to deal with the money and the wares."
Now Odd turns to Uspak, and bids him take
over to him the household. Uspak answers :
" That would be over-much for me, how well soever
things go, now thou hast to do therewith." Odd
urges the matter, and Uspak excuses himself, as
sorely as he desired to take it ; so at last it came
to this, that he bade Odd have his way, if he would
promise him his help and furtherance. Odd says
that he shall so deal with his possessions that
he may wax the better man thereby, and be
more highly favoured, and that he had put it
to the proof that no man either could or would
watch better over his wealth. Uspak bids him
now to do according to his will, and so the talk
Now Odd arrayed his ship, and let bear his
The Banded Men. 79
wares thereto, and this was heard of, and in divers
wise talked over.
Odd had no need to be long in getting ready.
Vali went with him : and so when they were fully
dight men lead him to ship. Uspak followed him
the furthest, and they had many things to talk of:
so when they were but a little way from the ship
Odd said : " Now is there yet one thing which has
not been settled."
" What is that ? " said Uspak.
" We have not seen to my priesthood," said Odd,
" and I will that thou take it over."
" This is out of all reason," saith Uspak. " I am
unmeet for this : already have I taken more things
on my hands than I am like to handle or turn out
well ; there is no man so fit as is thy father ; he is
the greatest of lawmen, and exceeding wise." Odd
says that into his hands he would not give it ; " and
I will have thee to take it," says he.
Uspak excused himself, and yet was fain to have
it : then says Odd that he will be wroth if he take
it not ; wherefore at their parting Uspak took the
So Odd fares abroad, and full happy was his
voyage even as his wont was.
Uspak fares home, and this matter is talked of
in diverse wise ; and folk think that Odd hath given
much power into the hands of this man.
Uspak rides to the Thing next summer with a com-
pany of men, and does well and helpfully there, and
turns all due matters well out of hand where to he was
by law bound, and rides thence with honour. H e sus-
tained his men in doughty wise ; nowhere letting
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their part be borne down, nor were they down-
trodden : he was kind and easy to all the neigh-
bours, and there was no less plenty or hospitality
at the stead than had been heretofore ; nor was good
housekeeping lacking thereto : and all went well.
So weareth summer : Uspak rideth to the Leet
and halloweth it ; and when harvest comes, he fares
to the fells when men go after their wethers, and
they were brought in well, for the searching was
careful, and no sheep were missing, either of Odd's
or any other man's.
CHAPTER IV. OF DISSENSION BETWEEN USPAK AND
IT fell out that harvest that Uspak came north
to Swalastead in Willowdale, where dwelt a
woman called Swala, who gave him good
entertainment ; she was a fair woman and a young :
she talked to Uspak, biddinghimlook to her matters ;
" for I have heard that thou art the best of hus-
He took it well, and they talked much together,
and either was well pleased with other, and they
beheld each other blithely.
So their talk came to this, that he asked who had
most to say in the giving of her in marriage. " Of
such as are of any account," said she, "none is
nigher to me than Thorarin the Sage, the Long-
So Uspak rode to Thorarin, and was straightway
greeted of him well, in a way ; and there he set
forth his errand, and wooed him Swala. Thorarin
The Banded Men. 81
answers : " I cannot say I am eager for alliance
with thee : folk talk in diverse wise about thy deal-
ings. I can see that it is no good to beat about the
bush with such men as thou : either must I break
up her household, and have her hither ; or else
must ye do as ye will. I will have nought to do
with it ; nor will I deem myself as consenting to the
So thereon Uspak rides his ways, and comes to
Swalastead, and tells Swala how matters stood : so
they take their own counsel, and she betroths her-
self to him, and fares home with him to Mel ; but
they owned the house at Swalastead, and got men
to take heed to it. So abideth Uspak at Mel, sus-
taining the bounteousness of the house ; yet was he
deemed a masterful man.
So weareth winter, and in spring came Odd into
Ramfirth, once again full of wealth and good report
of men : he came home to Mel, and looked over
his possessions, and deems that they have been
well heeded, and speaks well of that ; and so wears
on the summer.
But on a time Odd falls to talk with Uspak, say-
ing that it were well for him to take his priesthood
again. "Yea," said Uspak, "that was even the
thing I was most unwilling to take up, and the
most unfit to deal with : I am all ready to give it
up ; but I deem that men are mostly wont to do
that at the Leets or the Things." Odd answereth :
" So it may well be." Now neareth summer on to
the Leet ; and on the morning thereof when Odd
awakes, he looks about, and findeth few men in the
hall, and he has slept fast and long : so he sprang
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up and found that the men are clean gone from the
hall, and deemed it marvellous, but said but little.
So he arrayed him, and certain men with him,
and rode away to the Leet ; but when they came
there, they found many men, but these well nigh
ready to depart ; and the Leet was hallowed. Odd
changed countenance, and deemed this impudence
Men ride home, and a few days wear away thence ;
but on a day as Odd sat at table with Uspak over
against him, even as he least looked for it Odd
sprang from the board, and at Uspak with axe
raised aloft, and bade him give up his priesthood
Uspak answers : " No need of carrying the matter
on with all this violence : thou mayest have the
priesthood whenso thou wilt. I wotted not that thou
wert so eager to have it." Therewith he stretches
out his hand, and gives Odd the priesthood.
Now were things quiet awhile ; but henceforth
Odd and Uspak had little to do with each other ;
and Uspak was somewhat cross-grained of temper ;
and it is deemed that he was minded to have kept
the priesthood from Odd, if he had not been cowed
out of it when he could not get off.
Now Uspak did nought to help the housekeep-
ing, and Odd never called upon him for any work,
and neither spake to other.
So on a day Uspak gat him gone, and Odd made
as if he knew it not, and in such wise they parted
that no greeting passed between them. Uspak
went to his house at jpwalastead, but Odd made as
if nought had happed, and so all is quiet a space.
The Banded Men. 83
CHAPTER V. OF THE SLAYING OF VALI.
TH E tale tells that in harvest-tide men fare
up into the fells, and all changed was
Odd's ingathering from what had been ;
for at this autumn folding he missed forty of his
wethers, and they the best of his flock. They were
searched for wide over fell and heath, and were not
found : men deemed this wondrous, for Odd was
accounted luckier with his sheep than others : so
hard men drave the search that other countries as
well as the home country were searched, and no-
thing done ; and at last the matter dropped, but
there was diverse talk as to how it came about.
Odd was sorry of cheer that winter season ; so
Vali his kinsman asked why he was nought glad :
" What ! dost thou take the losing of thy sheep so
much to heart ? thou art not much of a man if such
things grieve thee."
Odd answers : " I sorrow not for my wethers ;
but this I deem a worse matter, that I wot not who
has stolen them." Vali answers : " Thinkest thou
then that so it verily is ; and whither dost thou
turn to most then ? "
Saith Odd : " It is not to be hidden that I deem
Uspak hath stolen them." Vali answers : " Far
away then is your friendship fled from the time
when thou settedst him over all thy goods." Odd
said that that had been the greatest folly, and that
things had gone better than might have been
looked for. Vali said : " Many talked thereof as
of a wondrous thing ; but now I will that thou lay
not this so hastily to his charge ; for there is a risk
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of rumour getting about, that it seems lightly
spoken : now shall we make a bargain together
that I will certify thee of the truth, but thou shalt
let me deal therein as I will."
So they struck that bargain, and Vali went his
ways with goods of his : he rides out to Waterdale
and Longdale selling his goods, and was friendly
and easy to deal with. So he goes his ways till he
comes to Swalastead, and there has good enter-
tainment, and all joyous was Uspak. But on the
morrow Vali arrays him to depart, and Uspak led
him from the garth, and asked many things of Odd,
and Vali spake well of his doings. Uspak made
much of him, saying that he was a bounteous man :
" But came not some loss upon him last harvest ? "
Vali said that so it was.
" What is the guess about those missing sheep,
such a lucky sheep-owner as Odd has been hereto-
fore ? " said Uspak. Vali answers : " The guess-
ing is not all one way ; but some deem it to have
been the work of men."
Uspak says : " That is well to be deemed ; and
yet such tricks are but for few."
" Yea surely," saith Vali. Said Uspak : " Has
Odd any guess about it ?" "He saith but little
thereof," said Vali, " but among other folk is there
all the more talk how it was done." " As may well
be," said Uspak.
"So it goes," said Vali, "after all we two have
said, that some men say it is not unlike that thou
must have had a hand in it ; for they put it to-
gether that ye parted in anger, and that the sheep
were missing not long after."
The Banded Men. 85
Uspak answers : " I could not have thought
that thou wouldst say such things ; and but we
were such friends as we be, I would avenge it
Says Vali : "There is no need to hide the thing,
or to be so mad wroth : I have been looking over
thy matters here ; and thou mayest not put it from
thee ; for I can see that thou hast much more of
stores than are like to be well gotten."
Uspak answered : " It will not be so proven :
but what will our foes' words be, if our friends speak
in this wise ? "
Vali said : " This is not spoken unto thee in
enmity, seeing that I speak to thy hearing alone ;
for now if thou wilt do after my will, and confess the
matter, it shall fall but lightly on thee ; for I shall
find a way thereto : I have sold my wares wide
about the country, and I will say that thou hast
taken the money over, and bought therewith flesh-
meat and other things : no man will misdoubt this,
and I will so bring it about that thou shalt have no
shame hereof, if thou wilt do after my counsel."
Uspak said that he would not confess to it.
" Then will things go a worser road," said Vali ;
" but it is thine own doing."
Therewith they parted, and Vali fared home.
Odd asked him if he had found out aught about
the missing sheep, and Vali let out but little there-
Quoth Odd : " No need to hide now that Uspak
has stolen them ; for thou wouldst fain excuse him
if thou mightest."
So wore the winter quietly : but when it was
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spring, and the Days of Summoning were come,
Odd went his ways with twenty men, till he came
anigh the garth of Swalastead ; then said Vali to
Odd : " Bait your horses here awhile, and I will
ride to the house and see Uspak, if peradventure
he be willing to make atonement, and then the case
need go no further."
So did they, and Vali rides up to the house ;
there was no one without, and the door was open,
so Vali went in : it was dark in the house, and all
unwares of him a man leaps up from the bench and
smites him between the shoulders, so that he falls
straightway. Then cried Vali : " Save thyself,
wretched man ! Odd is hard by the garth, and is
minded to slay thee : send thy wife to meet him,
and let her say that we are at one, and that thou
hast confessed to the matter ; but that I have gone
to call in moneys of mine out in the Dales."
Said Uspak: "This is one of the worst of
deeds ; I had minded it for Odd, and not for
So Swala meets Odd, and tells him that they are
at one again, Vali and Uspak ; " and Vali bade thee
Odd believed it, and turned back and rode
Vali lost his life there, and his corpse was brought
Odd thought the tidings great and evil ; he gat
shame thereof, and folk deemed it a miserable hap.
Uspak vanished away so that men knew nought
what was become of him.
The Banded Men. 87
CHAPTER VI. ODD SETS ON FOOT A CASE AGAINST
HERE tells the tale that Odd set on foot
this case at the Thing, and summoned
the neighbours from home ; but as it
happed, one of those summoned died, whereon Odd
summoned another in his place. Men fare to the
Thing, and all is quiet till the courts are set : and
when the courts were opened Odd put forth the
case for the slaying, and all went smoothly till the
defence was called.
Now hard by the courts sat two chieftains, Styr-
mir and Thorarin, with their companies ; and Styr-
mir spake to Thorarin, and said : " Now are they
crying on the defence in the blood-suit ; wilt thou
answer aught in the case ? "
" Nay," said Thorarin, " I will not meddle herein,
for meseems need enough drives Odd to take up
the case and follow the blood-suit after such a man
as Vali, when the man accused is belike the very
worst of men."
" Yea," said Styrmir, " the man is not a good
man verily, but thou art somewhat bound to him."
" I heed that nought," said Thorarin.
Styrmir said : " It is to be looked at in thiswise
also, that thou wilt have trouble with him after he
is made guilty ; only so much the more, and the
harder to deal with : and it seemeth to me a thing
to be seen to : so let us seek some rede, for we
both of us see a flaw in the case."
" I have seen that for this long while," says Thora-
rin, "but it seemed to me unmeet to hamper the case. "
88 The Saga Library.
Styrmir answers : " It toucheth thee the closest
though, and folk will call it unmanly in thee if the
case goeth forward now, when a defence from thee
is urgent ; and, sooth to say, it were well if Odd
knew that there are others of account besides him-
self; he treadeth us all under foot, us and our
thingmen, so that he alone is told of : and it would
be no harm if he found out what a wizard at law
" Thou shalt have thy way," said Thorarin, "and
I will help thee herein ; but I like not the look of
it, and evil will come of it moreover."
" I will not turn from it for that cause," said
Styrmir ; and he springs up and goes to the court,
and asks what is doing about the cases of men. So
they told him, and he said : " So is it, Odd, that
there is a flaw found in thy case, and thou hast set
it afoot wrongly, whereas thou hast summoned thy
ten witnesses from the country-side at home, which
is against the law, for thou shouldst have done it
at the Thing ; now do thou one of two things :
either go from the court with matters as they are,
or stay, and we will put forth the defence."
Odd held his peace, and turned the matter over,
and saw that it was but sooth ; so he goes from the
court with his company, and home to his booth.
But as he came into the booth-lane there came
a man to meet him : a man well-stricken in years,
and clad in a black sleeve-cloak ready to drop to
pieces, with but one sleeve on, and that cast aback
behind : he had a pike-staff in his hand, and a
slouched hat upon his head ; he peered about from
under it, and walked somewhat bent, smiting the
The Banded Men. 89
staff down upon the ground ; and lo ! there was come
old Ufeig, Odd's father.
Now Ufeig spake : " Early away from the courts
then," says he. "It is not in one thing only that
thou art happy ; for everything thou dealest with
runs swift and smooth off the reel. Well, so Uspak
is found guilty then ? "
" Nay," said Odd, "he is not."
Ufeig said : "It is unmeet for a great man to
mock an old carle like me ! Why is he not found
guilty then ? was he wrongfully accused ? "
" Nay, he did the deed sure enough," said Odd.
" How then ? " said Ufeig, " I thought the charge
would stick to him: was he notVali's banesman?"
"No one had a word to say against it," said Odd.
" Then why is he not found guilty? " said Ufeig.
" There was a flaw found in the case, and it came
to nought," said Odd.
Says Ufeig : " How might there be a flaw in the
case of a rich man like thee ? "
" They said it was wrongly set on foot at home,"
" Nay, it could not be with thee in the case," said
Ufeig ; " yet it may be thou art better at getting
money, and wandering about, than at pushing a
law-suit. After all, though, I scarce think thou art
telling me the truth."
Odd answers : " I care not whether thou be-
lievest me or not."
" Well, it may be," said Ufeig ; " sooth to say,
however, I knew when thou wentest from home
that the case was wrongly set on foot ; but thou
deemedst thyself enough by thyself, and wouldst
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ask of no man : and now thou must be enough for
thyself in this matter also ; but thou wilt get out
of it well enough ; as it behoveth thee specially to
do, who deemest all men dirt beside thee."
Odd answers : " One thing is sure, that I shall
get no help of thee."
Said Ufeig : " If thou gettest any help in thy case
it will be mine : how much wouldst thou spare thy
money if any were to set thy case right for thee ? "
Odd answers : " I would not spare money to him
who would take up the case."
Said Ufeig : " Then let a heavyish purse drop
into the hand of this old carle ; for folk's eyes are
apt at squinting toward money." So Odd gave him
a great purse, and Ufeig asked : " Was the defence
put into court or not ? " " No," said Odd, " we went
away from the court first."
Ufeig answers : " The only good thing which
thou hast done is that which thou hast done un-
wittingly." So they parted, and Odd went home to
CHAPTER VII. OF THE GUILES OF OLD UFEIG.
NOW must it be told how master Ufeig
goeth up by the meads unto the courts ;
he comes to the courts of the North-
landers, and asks how go folk's cases : they told
him that some were now doomed, and others at
point to be summed up. Says he : "And how is
it with the case of Odd my son : is it ended now
peradventure ? "
" Ended it is as much as ever it will be," said they.
The Banded Men. 91
Ufeig said : "Is Uspak found guilty then ? "
" Nay," said they, " he is not."
" What brought that about ? " saith Ufeig.
" There was a flaw found in the case," say they ;
" it was wrongly set afoot."
" Yea," said Ufeig, " will ye give me leave to go
into the court ? "
They said yea thereto ; so he went into the
Doom-ring and sat down ; then said he : " Whether
is the case of Odd my son doomed ? "
" Doomed it is as much as it ever will be," said
" How cometh that ? " said Ufeig. " Is Uspak
wrongfully accused ? Slew he not Vali sackless ?
or could it be that the case was not deemed
urgent ? "
They said : " There was a flaw in the case, and
it came to nought." "What was the flaw?" said
he. They told him. " Yea, forsooth," said he, " and
deem ye that there is any right and justice in
giving heed to such things of little worth, and to
let the worst of men, a thief and a man-slayer, get
off scot-free ? Is it not taking a heavy weight upon
you to doom him sackless who is fully worthy of
death, and thus to give judgment contrary to
right ?" They said that they did not deem it right,
but that in suchwise it wa&Jaid down for them.
" Yea, indeed," said Ufeig ; " did ye swear the
" Full surely did we," say they.
" So it must have been," said he ; " and in what
words will ye have sworn ? Was it not in this wise,
that ye would judge according to what seemed
92 The Saga Library.
truest to you, and most according to the law ?
Even so must ye have sworn." They said that so
Then said Ufeig : " And what may be more ac-
cording to truth than to doom the worst of men to
be guilty, worthy of death, and to be deprived of
all aid : a man proven guilty of theft, and who
moreover hath slain a sackless man, even Vali.
But as to the third of those things wherewith your
oath has to do, that indeed may be deemed some-
what uncertain. Yet think for yourselves which is
more of worth, those two words which deal with
right and truth, or the third which dealeth with but
quibbles of law ; and then will it surely seem to
you as it verily is, and ye shall surely wot, that ye
will have the more to answer for, if ye let one go
free who is worthy of death, when ye have sworn
an oath that ye would judge according to what ye
know to be the right : and now look to it that it
will weigh heavy on you else, and that ye will scarce
escape answering to a hard matter."
Now whiles would Ufeig let the purse sink
down from under his cloak, and whiles would he
draw it up, and he found that they all kept casting
an eye to the purse.
Then he spake to them : " It were better rede
to judge according to right and troth, even as ye
have sworn, and to have in return the thanks and
love of all wise and upright men."
Therewith he took the purse and poured out the
silver, and told it over before them : " Now will I
show my friendliness toward you," said he, " and
how I am thinking more of you than of myself
The Banded Men. 93
herein ; and this I do because some of you are my
friends, and some my kinsmen, and all of you
moreover in such a case that need is ye look to
yourselves : to every man who sitteth in the court
will I give an ounce of silver, and half a mark
to him that sums up the case : and thus ye will
both have gotten money, and put from you a matter
heavy to answer to ; and moreover, which is most
of all, ye will have kept your oath inviolate."
They thought over the matter, and seemed to
find truth in his words, and they had aforetime
deemed themselves hard bestead in the matter of the
straining of their oath : so they took the choice that
Ufeig bade them. Then was Odd sent for, and he
came by then the chieftains were gone home to
the booths. So the case was set forth, and Uspak
was made guilty, and witnesses named for the ful-
filling of the doom ; and therewith go men home
to their own booths.
Nought was heard hereof that night, but on the
morrow up standeth Odd on the Hill of Laws, and
saith in a loud voice : " Here in the Court of the
Northlanders was a man found guilty of the slay-
ing of Vali : Uspak is his name, and these are the
tokens to know the guilty one by : He is great of
growth, and a manly enough fellow. Dark brown
is his hair, his cheekbones big, his brow swart :
great-handed is he, thick-legged, and all his fashion
is out of measure big, and his aspect most rascally."
Now are men much astonished; many had heard
nought thereof before, and men deem that Odd has
handled his case strongly and luckily, such a plight
as it was gotten into.
94 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER VIII. OF THE BANDED MEN.
N" OW is it told that Styrmir and Thorarin
had speech together, and Styrmir said :
"Great mocking and shame have we
gotten from this case."
Thorarin said: " It was but what we might have
looked for : but wise men must have been busy
" Yea," said Styrmir ; " seest thou any way now
to set matters right ? "
" I know not if it may be speedily done," said
" Well, what is best then ? " said Styrmir.
Thorarin answers : " If the charge might be laid
on them that money was brought into court, that
" Yea, yea," said Styrmir. Then they went their
ways home to their booths.
Now they call together to council their friends
and men allied to them ; and thither came, first
Hermund Illugison, secondly Gellir Thordson,
thirdly Egil Skulison, fourthly Jarnskeggi Einar-
son, fifthly Skeggbroddi Biarnson, sixthly Thor-
geir Haldorason, and Styrmir and Thorarin withal.
So these eight fall a-talking together, and Styr-
mir and Thorarin set forth the story of the case,
and where it stood now, and what a booty would
be Odd's wealth, whereby all their fortunes would
be plenteously amended : so they determine to band
together, and all to push the case to the awarding
of outlawry or self-doom, and here to they bind them-
selves by oath ; and they deem that this may not
The Banded Men. 95
be overthrown, and that none may have heart or
wisdom to rise up against it. With such talk they
part, and men ride home from the Thing, and at
first this is kept privy.
Odd was well pleased with his journey to the
Thing, and the father and son are more at one
now than heretofore : so Odd abideth in peace
But in spring-tide he met his father, and Ufeig
asked for tidings ; but Odd said he had heard
nought, and asked in turn what was toward. Ufeig
says that Styrmir and Thorarin have gathered folk
and are going to Mel a-summoning : Odd asks
wherefore, and Ufeig tells him all their intent.
Odd answers : " It seemeth to me no such heavy
matter." Ufeig says : " Well, maybe it will not be
beyond thy strength."
So weareth time to the summoning-days, and
then come Thorarin and Styrmir to Mel with
many men ; and Odd also had a great company
there. They put forth their case then, and sum-
moned Odd to the Althing, for that he had caused
money to be borne into the courts unlawfully :
nought else betid to tell of there, and they rode
away with their company. Yet again it befell that
the father and son met, and talked together, and
Ufeig asked if it still seemed a thing of nought;
and Odd answers : " Nay, I deem it no such heavy
matter." " Otherwise it seemeth to me," saith
Ufeig ; " knowest thou clearly to what pass things
are come ? "
Odd said he knew of what had come to pass.
Ufeig said : " More will come of it, meseemeth,
96 The Saga Library.
because six other chieftains of the greatest have
joined themselves to them."
" Great strength they seem to need against me,"
Said Ufeig : " What will thy rede be now ? "
" What," said Odd, " save to ride to the Thing
and seek aid."
Ufeig answers : " It seemeth to me nought hope-
ful, in such a plight as things now are, to stake our
honour on having the greater number of folk."
" What is to be done then ? " said Odd.
Ufeig says : " My rede it is that thou array thy
ship while the Thing is toward, and be ready with
all thy loose goods, and have them aboard by then
men ride from the Thing. And now which of thy
money deemest thou gone a worser road, that which
these shall take from thee, or that which I shall
" Well, that is something saved out of the fire
that cometh to thee," saith Odd ; and therewith
he giveth his father a heavy purse of silver, and
they part. Odd arrays his ship, and gets men
thereto : and so weareth time toward the Thing.
But these plots went on privily, so that few heard
CHAPTER IX. OF UFEIG AND THE BANDED MEN.
NOW ride the chieftains to the Thing, and
many are with them : goodman Ufeig
was of Styrmir's company. The Banded
Men bespoke a meeting of them on Bluewood-
heath, and these met there, Egil, Styrmir, Hermund,
The Banded Men. 97
and Thorarin ; and now they ride all in a company
down to the Thing-mead. But these ride from the
east, Skeggbroddi and Thorgeir Haldorason of
Bathdale ; and from the north Jarnskeggi ; and
they meet by Reydarmuli, and all the companies
of them together ride down into the Meads, and so
to the Thing.
There turns all the talk on Odd's case, and all
men deem there will be none to answer it, thinking
that few dare it, and none may carry it through in
the teeth of such great men as there are against
him ; but their own case they deemed fair enough,
and more than enough they bragged about it ; and
no man had a word to say against them.
Odd charged no man about his case : he dight
his ship for sea in Ramfirth so soon as men were
gone to the Thing.
On a day went master Ufeig from his booth : he
was full of trouble, seeing no man to help him, and
thinking his case heavy to push : scarce could he
see any way for him alone to deal with such great
men ; and in the case was no defence ; he went all
bent at the knees, and wandered stumbling among
the booths. Thus fared he a long while, but came
at the last to the booth of Egil Skulison ; and men
were come thither to talk with Egil, so Ufeig hung
about the booth doors, and waited till the men were
gone away. Egil followed them out, and when he
was going in again, Ufeig turned and met him, and
greeted him. Egil looked on him, and asked him
who he was : " Ufeig am I called," said he.
Egil said : " Art thou the father of Odd ? "
He said that so it was.
98 The Saga Library.
" Then wilt them be a-talking of his case ; but it
will be waste of words, for the matter is too much
done with for me to help thee aught ; and other men
than I have more to do with the case, Styrmir and
Thorarin to wit ; they take the more part of the
ruling thereof, though we follow them forsooth."
Ufeig answered, and there came a word into
his mouth :
Seemly was it
Of my son to think once j
Never fared I
Odd to further :
But little the fool looked
Though full enow
Of fee he gathered.
And again he sang :
Sport I hold it,
The old home-abider,
To speak a little
With the sage of men-folk ;
Gainsay me not
A little speech now,
For worthy indeed
And wise thou art holden.
" Nay, I shall find other sport than talking of
Odd's affairs ; time was they were hopefuller than
now, and thou wilt not gainsay me speech, for it
now is the old carle's chiefest joy to talk with such
men as thee, and so wear away a little time."
Egil answers : " I will not forbid thee speech."
And they go in together, and sit down.
Then Ufeig takes up the word : " Art thou a
householder, Egil ? " Egil said that so it was.
" Ah, and thou dwellest at Burg ? "
The Banded Men. 99
" So is it," said Egil.
Ufeig said : " What I hear told of thee is good,
and much to my mind : for they say that thou
grudgest meat to no man, and keepest good house,
so that it fares not unlike with us twain ; either of
us being men of good kin and good conditions, but
not handy at money-getting; yea, and they say
withal that thou art good at need to thy friends."
Egil answered : " It likes me well to be accounted
of even as thou art ; for I wot that thou art a wise
man and of great kin."
Ufeig said : " Herein though are we unlike : thou
art a great chieftain, and fearest nought for anything
that may be in thy way, and wilt never shrink from
holding thine own with whomsoever thou hast to
do ; whereas I am but a nobody : nevertheless my
mind is as thy mind, and great pity it is of men
who hold themselves so high, that they should lack
Egil answered : " Maybe that shall be changed
shortly, and my fortune amended."
" How comes that ? " said Ufeig.
" Why thus, meseems," said Egil, " that if we get
hold of Odd's money, little shall we lack, for great
things are told us of his wealth."
Ufeig answers : " Overmuch would not be said
of it though he were called the richest man of Ice-
land. But thou wilt be wishful to know what thy
share thereof will be ; and indeed thou art in most
sore need of the money."
" True," said Egil, " and thou art a good carle,
and a wise, and wilt know clearly about Odd's
ioo The Saga Library.
He answered : " It is to be looked for that others
should not know more thereof than I ; and I can tell
thee that it is more than the most that can be said
of it ; but I have been thinking what thy share
thereof will be."
And therewith came a song into his mouth :
Eight great ones surely gripeth
Gold greed and wrongful doing,
Though words be not well fitting
To us who once were wealthy.
Yet, lords of loud shields clashing,
I rede you leave your laughter
O'er the deed ye deem a great one,
Nor drag to light your shaming.
" Scarcely will that speedily be," says Egil, " yet
art thou a good scald."
Said Ufeig : " I will not delay the showing thee
what thy share of the good fortune will be : neither
more nor less than the sixteenth part of the lands
" Hearken to the fool," said Egil; " what ! is not
the money as much as is said, then ? or how may
that be ? "
Ufeig answers : " Nay, there is money enough,
yet meseemeth that is just what thou wilt get :
have ye not determined that ye are to have half of
Odd's wealth between you, and the men of the Quar-
ter the other half ? Wherefore I am reckoning that
there will be the half of the lands of Mel to be shared
between the eight Banded Men of you : for so will
your intent have been, and so will ye have settled
it, with whatsoever unexampled rashness ye have
taken up the case. Or were ye perchance deem-
ing that Odd my son would sit quietly at home
The Banded Men. i o i
awaiting your onset, when ye should be going
north-away ? Nay," said Ufeig, " ye shall not come
upon Odd unready ; and as good as he is at money-
making, yet lacketh he not for cunning and shifti-
ness at need. And no less belike shall the keel be-
neath him drive through the Iceland main because
ye call him guilty, as guilty he is not ; for the case
against him has been wrongfully taken up, and it
shall fall on their heads who have meddled in it.
Well, I deem he will be on the sea by now with all
that he hath, saving the land at Mel, which he hath
left behind for you ; and he had heard tell that it
is no great way up from the sea to Burg if he should
happen into Burgfirth.
" Well, the case will end as it began, and ye will
have shame and dishonour of it, and most meetly
too, for every man will blame you."
Said Egil : " I see it as clear as day, and how
that there are two in the game. Verily, it was not
to be looked for that we should catch Odd shiftless ;
and no great matter I deem it ; for there are some
in the case, the most pushing in it, whom I would
be well content to see shamed, Styrmir to wit, or
Thorarin, or Hermund."
" Yea," said Ufeig, " it shall come to pass as is
meet and right, that they shall have blame hereof
of every man; but it misliketh me that thou shouldst
come off ill, who art so much to my mind, and the
very best of you Banded Men." Therewith he let
a big purse of money sink down from under his
cloak, and Egil's eyes turned towards it; Ufeig
noted that, and drew it up again under his cloak at
his swiftest, and spake : " In such wise go matters,
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Egil, that I look for the thing to go just as I have
told thee : but now will I do a deed in thine honour."
And with that he unwinds the purse and pours out
the silver into Egil's cloak-skirt, two hundreds of
silver, the best that might be. " This shalt thou
have of me if thou wilt be not against our case, and
this is somewhat of an honour to thee."
Egil answers : " Meseemeth thou art no little
rascal : it is not to be thought of, that I will break
Ufeig answers : " O, ye are not what ye deem
yourselves : ye would be called chieftains, but have
no shift to turn to when things are gotten crooked.
Thou shalt do none of this ; for I will hit upon a rede
whereby thou shalt keep to thine oath."
" What is it ? " said Egil.
Ufeig said : " Have ye not determined that ye
will have either outlawry or self-doom in the case ? "
Egil said that so it was.
" Well, it may be," said Ufeig, " that we, Odd's
kindred, shall be allowed to choose which it shall
be, and then it might be brought about that the
giving of the award shall come to thee ; and then
would I have thee make it easy."
Egil answers : " Thou sayest sooth, and art a
cunning carle, and a wise ; yet am I not quite ready
hereto, having neither might nor men to withstand
all these chieftains alone : for their enmity for this
will fall on whomsoever riseth up against them."
Ufeig said : " How would it be were another in
the matter with thee ? "
" Things would go better then," said Egil.
Said Ufeig: "Whom wouldst thou choose of
The Banded Men. 103
the Banded Men ? think of them as if the whole
company of them were in my hand."
" Two there are," said Egil ; " Hermund is my
nearest neighbour, but we are not of good accord ;
the other is Gellir, and him would I choose."
" That is a hard piece of work," said Ufeig, " for
I wish all of them ill-luck from this case except
thee alone : but he will be wise enough to see which
is best to choose, to gain money and honour there-
with, or to lose the wealth, and win the shame. So
now wilt thou be in this matter, so as to lessen the
award if it come to thee ? "
" Well, I have a mind to it," said Egil.
" Then shall it be a settled matter between us,"
said Ufeig, " for I will come back hither to thee in
an hour's space."
CHAPTER X. OF UFEIG AND HIS TALK WITH GELLIR.
SO departed Ufeig from Egil, and went his
ways : he went wandering among thebooths,
still somewhat dragging of gait, howbeit not
so downcast of heart as tottering of foot, and nought
so easily tripped in his case, as he is lame of foot.
At last he cometh to the booth of Gellir Thordson,
and has him called out ; he came forth, and greeted
Ufeig first, for he was a lowly-mannered man, and
asked what his errand was ; Ufeig answers : " I was
just wandering about here."
Gellir said : " Thou wilt be wanting to talk about
Odd's case ?" " Nay," says Ufeig, " I will not be
talking of it : I wash my hands of it : other pastime
I would have than that."
IO4 The Saga Library.
Gellir said : " What wilt thou talk of then ? "
Ufeig said : " I hear say that thou art a wise man,
and good game I deem it to talk with wise men."
So they sit down together and fall to talk, and
Ufeig asks : " Which of the young folk in the west
country deemest thou like to turn out a great man ? "
Gellir said there was good choice of such, and
named the sons of Snorri the Priest and the Ere-
men. " I hear tell," said Ufeig, " that so it is ; and
moreover I am now come to the right place to learn
tidings, whereas I am now talking to a man both
truthful and straightforward : but now which of the
women west-away there are accounted the best
matches ? "
Gellir named the daughters of Snorri the Priest,
and of Steinthor of Ere.
" So I hear tell," said Ufeig ; " and yet, how comes
it ? hast thou ne'er a daughter ? "
Gellir said yea, certes he had.
" How was it that thou namedst her not, then ? "
said Ufeig ; " sure none shall be fairer than thy
daughters, if likelihood shall rule : are they un-
wedded yet ? "
" Yea," said he. " How comes that ? " said
Says Gellir : " Because no one has come a- wooing
as yet, who was both wealthy and a man of rule
over folk, of great kin and of good conditions : for
though I be not a wealthy man in money, yet am I
hard to please because of my high blood and great
honour. But come, let us talk the matter down to
the bottom by question : what man of the north
country is likely for a chieftain, thinkest thou ? "
The Banded Men. 1 05
Ufeig answers : " There is good choice of men :
first I account Einar Jarnskeggi's son, or Hall
Styrmir's son ; yea, and some there are who deem
Odd my son like to be somewhat ; and herewith am
I come to the word he bade me give thee, that he
would ally himself with thee, and wed Ragnheid
" Yea, yea," said Gellir ; " time was when that
would have won a good answer, but as things go
now it must be put off, meseemeth."
" How so ? " said Ufeig.
Said Gellir : " Well, as things go, thy son Odd
seemeth somewhat under a cloud."
Ufeig answered : " I tell thee of a sooth thou
wilt never wed her better : none may gainsay it
that he is as well of manners as the best, nor lacketh
he either for wealth or good kin : thou moreover
art pretty much of a lack-penny, and it might well
be that thou shalt be strengthened in him, a man
most great-hearted to his friends."
Gellir says : " The thing might be looked at, but
for this suit that hangs over him."
Ufeig answers: "Speak not of that wretched
matter, which is for nought but the shame and dis-
grace of all such as have meddled therein."
Gellir answers : " None the less it is to be looked
for that it will go otherwise ; so I will not assent
to the match, though if the suit might be got rid of,
I were full fain thereof."
Answereth Ufeig : " Belike, Gellir, ye shall all
make your fortunes out of this, and I may as well tell
thee what thy share shall be, for I know all about
it : well, at the best ye eight Banded Men will have
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half of the lands of Mel between you : nor do I
deem thy share then a good one ; the gain of a little
wealth to wit, and the loss therewith of good report
and manliness ; thou who wert called erewhile one
of the best of men in the whole land."
Gellir asked how that might be, and Ufeig
answered : " Meseemeth, forsooth, that Odd is now
at sea with all he hath, save the land at Mel : it was
not to be looked for that he would lie shiftless be-
fore you, and should let you pick and choose in all
" Nay," quoth Ufeig, " rather said he that if he
should come to Broadfirth he might happen on thy
house, and then could he wive himself out of thy
walls ; and he said moreover that he had tinder
enough to burn up thy house if he would : yea,
or were he to be in Burgfirth, he hath heard tell
that it is no great way up from the sea to Burg ;
or, quoth he, if he came into Eyiafirth he might
stumble upon Jarnskeggi's stead ; or in likewise
should he come unto the Eastern-firths, he might
come across Skeggbroddi's dwelling : nor maketh he
much account of it if he never come back to Iceland
again : but ye shall have out of all this a meet lot,
shame to wit, and dishonour ; and ill I deem it that
a chieftain so good as thou should be so evilly be-
stead, and fain had I spared it thee."
Gellir answered : " Yea, it will be true enough
belike ; and I should heed it little though the getting
of the money slipped through : for herein I let my-
self be drawn by my friends rather than that my
heart was set on it."
Ufeig said : " So wilt thou look on it as soon as
The Banded Men. 107
thou growest cool, that thou wilt deem it the more
honourable part to wed thy daughter to Odd my
son, even as I said at the first : lo ! here is the
money that he sent thee, saying that he himself
will pay her dower, for he knoweth thee a poor
man : two hundreds in silver, lo ! and such silver
as may scarce be gotten. Note now what a man
offers thee this choice ! to wed thy daughter, and
he himself to pay her dower ; and for thyself, it is
most like he will never use thee miserly ; while thy
daughter hath gotten all good fortune."
Gellir answered : " This is a thing so great that
it is hard to value ; but for nought can I bring my-
self to betray those that trust me : yet see I that
nought will come of it but mocking and scorn."
Then answered Ufeig : " Wondrous wise for-
sooth are ye great men ! who asked of thee to be-
tray them that trust in thee ? or tread thine oath
under foot ? Nay but mayhappen the award shall
come into thine hands, and then mayest thou make
it little, and yet hold to thine oath."
Gellir said : " True is that, and thou art a shifty
carle, and wondrous cunning : yet may I not alone
fly in the face of all these men."
Ufeig said : " How would it be if I got another
to be with thee ? wouldst thou help the case then ? "
" That will I," said Gellir, " if thou bring it about
that I have a hand in the award."
Ufeig said : " Whom dost thou choose to be with
thee ? "
Gellir answers : " Egil will I choose ; he is
nighest allied to me."
" Folly," said Ufeig, " to choose him who is worst
io8 The Saga Library.
of all your company ; I were loth indeed to give
him any honour, and I wot not whether I will set
my hand to it."
" Have thine own way then," said Gellir.
Ufeig said : " Wilt thou take up the case if I
bring him into it with thee ? for meseemeth he will
have wits to know whether it is good to take honour
" Seeing my good bargain," said Gellir, " I am
minded to risk it."
Said Ufeig : " Then have Egil and I talked the
matter over already, and he deemed it nought hard
to handle, and is come into the case. So now shall
I counsel thee what to do. The company of you
Banded Men are ever wont to go to church to-
gether, nor will any man misdoubt it though thou
and Egil talk what ye will as ye go to evensong."
So Gellir took the money, and all is settled be-
Then Ufeig went his ways towards Egil's booth,
going neither slowly nor swerving about, nor bowed
down ; and he telleth Egil how the matter standeth
now, and that liketh him well.
So afterward in the evening men go to evensong,
and Egil and Gellir talk the matter over, and settle
all between them, and no man misdoubted of it
The Banded Men . 1 09
CHAPTER XI. OF THE AWARD AT THE THING.
NOW it is to be told that on the morrow
men go to the Hill of Laws, and a great
crowd is there ; and Egil andGellir gather
their own friends together : Ufeig was of the com-
pany of Styrmir and Thorarin.
So when such as were looked for were come to
the Hill of Laws, Ufeig craved silence and said :
" Heretofore have I meddled not in this case of
Odd my son ; but now I wot that here are those
men who have been busiest in pushing the case.
Of this charge I first of all appeal Hermund :
though forsooth the case hath been set on foot
with more wrong and rashness than men have yet
to tell of; and in likewise has been carried on,
and in likewise maybe will end But now I will
ask this : Whether may the case be settled peace-
Hermund answered : " We will take nought save
Said Ufeig : " It is a thing unheard of that one
man in one case should give selfdoom to eight men ;
but that one should give it to one, that hath been
heard of ; but whereas this case hath been pushed
in a more masterful way than any other, I will now
crave that two of thy company be judges."
Hermund answered : " We will say yea to this,
nor heed aught which twain shall adjudge."
" Then ye will not begrudge me this small honour,"
said Ufeig, " to choose the twain whom I will of you
Banded Men ? "
''Yea, yea, so let it be," said Hermund.
1 10 The Saga Library.
Then said Thorarin : " Say yea to such things
only to-day as thou ruest not to-morrow."
" I will not call my words back," said Hermund.
Now Ufeig seeks for sureties, and they were not
hard to find, for the money was deemed to be in a
Then men take hands, and they give hansel to
the Banded Men of such fines as they whom Ufeig
shall name may award, and the Banded Men hansel
the voiding of the case. Now it is so determined that
the Banded Men shall go out on to the fields with
their company, and the folk of Egil and Gellir held
So they sat down in a ring in a certain place, and
Ufeig goeth into the ring, and peereth round about,
and lifteth his cloak-hood : he standeth with his
belly somewhat thrust out, stroking his arms ; he
peereth round about with his eyes, and then saith :
" There sittest thou, Styrmir, and men will deem
it wondrous if I choose thee not for this case which
is on my hands ; for I am of thy thingmen, and to
thee should I look for helping, and many good gifts
hast thou had of me, and rewarded everyone of
them with ill. Methinks thou wert the first to shew
thine enmity in this matter unto Odd my son, and
it was thy doing chiefly that the case was set on
foot. So thee will I set aside.
" There sittest thou, Thorarin ; nor may any lay
to thy charge that thou lackest wit to deal with this
case : yet hast thou brought unthrift on Odd in this
case, and with Styrmir wert the first to set afoot
the case. Therefore thee will I not choose.
" There sittest thou, Hermund, a great chieftain !
The Banded Men. 1 1 1
and forsooth the case were meetly handled if thou
hadst the handling of it : yet hast thou been the
eagerest of men herein from the beginning, and
clear as day it is that thou wouldst have our dis-
honour clear as day ; nor hath aught drawn thee
hereto saving shamelessness and greed ; for nought
lackest thou of wealth. So thee I set aside.
" There sittest thou, Jarnskeggi ! and art nought
lacking in pride to judge the case ; and well enow
wouldst thou be pleased to be master herein ; thou,
who wert of such pride that thou lettest bear a
banner before thee at the Vodla-thing, as before a
king. Yet shalt thou not be king in this case ;
and thee do I set aside."
Now Ufeig casts his eyes about and says :
" There sittest thou, Skeggbroddi ! is it true that
King Harald Sigurdson said when thou wert with
him that he deemed thee the meetest for a king of
all men out here ? "
Broddi answered : " Oft would the King talk
well to me, but it is not so sure that he meant all
that he said."
Then said Ufeig: "Thou shalt be king over
other matters than this case, and thee do I set
" There sittest thou, Gellir," said Ufeig, " and
nought hath drawn thee into this case save greedi-
ness of money only ; but verily it is small blame to
thee, so penniless as thou art, and so much as thou
hast to do. And now, though ye be all worthy of
ill, yet see I not but that some honour must be
given to somebody ; for now are but few left, and
I am loth to choose from them whom I have set
1 1 2 The Saga Library.
aside already; therefore thee I choose, because thou
hast not heretofore been known for a wrongful man.
" There sittest thou, Thorgeir Haldorason, and
it is well known that no case ever fell to thy judging
that was of any account ; for nought canst thou
mete out judgment, having no more wits thereto
than an ox or an ass ; and thee then I set aside."
Then Ufeig looked round about, and there came
a stave into his mouth :
Evil it is
When eld falleth on us,
Wisdom and eyesight :
From eight men of avail
Might I have chosen,
Now on hook hangeth
Nought but the wolf's-tail.
" Yea," said he, " I fare as the wolves, who eat
on till they come to the tail, unawares : I have had
the choice of many chieftains, and now is he alone
left whom all will think an evil choice ; and true
indeed it is that he is unjuster than any, and
heedeth not one thing more than another whereby
he getteth money, so only he get it at last : yet is
it pity of him, though he hath not been nice afore-
time, that he should have fallen into this, where-
into so many are fallen, who have heretofore been
called righteous men, and yet now have cast aside
manliness and uprightness to follow after wrong-
doing and greed.
" Well, none could have it in their heads that I
should ever choose him, from whom all men look
for evil, for no man of your fellowship is wilier : yet
so it has to be, for all the rest have been set aside."
The Banded Men. 1 1 3
Then said Egil, and smiled withal : " Now yet
again shall it be, as oft afore, that honour befalleth
me, not because others will it : but now, Gellir, it
behoveth us to stand up and go apart, and talk the
matter over between us."
So did they, and went away thence, and sat
down ; then said Gellir : " What shall we say
about it ? "
Egil said : " It is my rede that we award a
little money fine. I know not what else may come
of it, but of a sooth it will not be friendship for
" Will it not be full enough," said Gellir, " if we
award thirteen ounces of evil silver ? for most un-
righteously was the case set afoot ; and the worse
they like it, the better it is : yet am I not fain to
give out the award ; for meseemeth we shall be
evil looked on."
" Do which thou wilt," said Egil ; " give out the
award, or sit to outface the answers."
" Then I choose to give out the award," said
And therewith they go to meet the Banded
Then said Hermund : "Stand we up and hearken
to the shaming."
Said Gellir : " Later on we shall wax no wiser,
and it all comes to this, that we, Egil and I, award
thirteen ounces of silver to us Banded Men."
Then said Hermund : " Heard I aright : saidst
thou thirteen tens of silver ounces ?"
Answereth Egil : " Wert thou then a-sitting on
thine ear, Hermund, since thou stoodest up ?
1 14 The Saga Library.
Thirteen ounces good sooth, and that of such
money as none but a wretch would take : paid shall
it be in scrapings of shields and scraps of rings ;
yea, in all that is most worthless, and shall like you
Said Hermund : " Thou hast betrayed us, Egil."
" Yea," said Egil, "dost thou deem thee betrayed ?"
" Betrayed I deem me, and thou it is hast betrayed
me," said Hermund.
Egil answered : " It likes me well to betray him
who trusteth no man, nay, not even himself : me-
seemeth my tongue may find a true tale thereof ;
for in the thickest of fogs thou didst hide away thy
money, with the mind that if ever it came into thy
heart to look for it, thou mightst not find it."
Said Hermund: " This is like the rest of thy
lying, like as thou saidest in the winter-tide, Egil,
when thou earnest to me at my bidding from thy
wreck of a house at Burg in Yule-tide : and right
glad wert thou thereat, as was like to be ; and when
Yule was spent, thou grewest sad, as was like to be,
thinking it hard to have to go home to that misery :
but I, when I saw that, bade thee abide still, thou
and another with thee ; and thou tookest that, and
wert fain thereof: but in spring-tide after Easter,
when thou wert come home to Burg, thou saidst
that thirty ice-horses had died, and had all been
eaten by us."
Egil answered : " I know not how over-much
may be said about thy misery ; otherwise I believe
little or nothing was eaten of them : but all men
wot that I and my men lack never for meat, how-
beit that I find it not so easy to come by money :
The Banded Men. 1 1 5
but such is the housekeeping at thy house, that
thou needest say nought about it."
" I would well," said Hermund, " that we twain
were not at the Thing another summer."
" Now will I say," said Egil, " what I never
thought to say, and bid bless thine opening mouth !
for it was foretold of me that I should die of old
age, and all the better were I content if the trolls
took thee first."
Then said Styrmir : " He sayeth soothest of
thee, Egil, who sayeth worst, and calleth thee a
" Now we get on well," said Egil ; " the more
thou blamest me and the truer thou deemest it,
the better it liketh me ; for I have been told that
when for your ale-joyance ye would play at the
mating of men, thou wouldst pair thyself with me.
Well, it is indeed true that thou hast certain wiles
about thee whereof other men wot not ; thou must
know thine own heart best : but in one thing are
we unlike : for either of us hath promised the
other help at need, and I have given it when I
might, and have in nought spared me, but thou
rannest so soon as the blackshanks were aloft.
True it is also that I have ever been unthriving
in my house, yet grudge I meat to no man, while
thou art a meat-begrudger ; and for a token thereof
hast a vessel called Meatluck, and no man who
cometh into thy garth knoweth what is in him but
thyself alone. Now it is but meet to me that my
house should have hard times when lack is, but less
than meet for a man to pinch his house when lack
is not. Think now what man this is ! "
1 1 6 The Saga Library.
Then Styrmir held his peace, and Thorarin
stood up, but Egil said: " Hold thy peace, Thorarin,
and sit down and lay not another word hereto !
Else will I lay such a word on thee as thou hadst
been better silent. I see nought to laugh at in it,
though the lads laugh, that thou sittest pinched up
with thy thighs glued together."
Thorarin said : " Wholesome rede will we hold
to, whencesoever it cometh." And he sat down
and held his peace.
Then spake Thorgeir : " All may see that this
award is without reason and foolish, to award thirteen
ounces of silver and no more in so great a case."
" But I had thought," said Egil, " that thou hadst
seen reason enough in the award ; and so wilt thou,
if thou think about thyself therewith ; for then wilt
thou remember how at the Rangar-leet a certain cot-
carle made thirteen stripes on thine head, and thou
tookest therefor thirteen ewes with their sucklings :
then meseems thou wilt deem the token good enow."
Thorgeir held his peace, and as for Jarnskeggi
and Skegbroddi they would have no words with
Then said Ufeig : " Now shall I sing you a
stave for the better memory of this Thing, and
the ending of the case that hath here betid."
This grove of metal mostly
Shall find its honour minished ;
Glad give I forth such tidings,
Of the strife 'twixt dwarf and giant.
The land of hats of high ones
Have I the unwealthy hoodwinked,
And in the eyes of chieftains
Cast I the dust of gold rings.
The Banded Men. 1 1 7
Egil answered : " Well mayest thou boast over
it, for no one man hath so fearlessly flown in the
face of so many great men."
Now after this men went home to their booths,
and Gellir spake to Egil, saying : " I will that we
hold us both together with our men." And they
Much muttering of threats there was for the
rest of the Thing, and the Banded Men were ex-
ceeding ill-content with this ending of the case.
As for that money no man would have it, and it
kicked about the meads there.
Now men ride home from the Thing.
CHAPTER XII. OF ODD S VOYAGE AND HIS WEDDING.
N" OW that father and son meet, and Odd
was now ready dight for sea. So Ufeig
tells Odd that he has given the Banded
" Most miserable man," said Odd, " to make
such ending of the case ! "
Saith Ufeig : " All is not lost yet, kinsman,"
and therewith he tells him of the whole process of
the case, and how that he has wooed a wife for
him. Odd thanks him well for his help, and deems
he has pushed the case far beyond what he had
thought might be ; and now he says that Ufeig
shall never lack money.
" Thou shalt depart now," said Ufeig, " as thou
wert minded ; but the wedding shall be holden at
Mel in six weeks space." Thereafter departed
the father and son in all love ; but Odd put to
1 1 8 Tlie Saga Library.
sea, and the wind served him to Thorgeirs-firth,
where there were lying certain chapmen ; there the
wind failed them, and they lay there some nights.
Odd thought the wind long a-coming, so he went
up on to a high fell, and thence saw that there was
wind in another quarter outside : then he went back
to his ship and bade flit her out of the firth ; the
Eastmen mocked them, saying that it was a long
row to Norway ; but Odd said : "How may we wot
but that ye shall bide us here ? "
So when they were come out of the firth straight-
way was the wind fair, and they struck not sail be-
fore they came to the Orkneys : there Odd bought
malt and corn, and abode there awhile and arrayed
his ship. But even so soon as he was ready came
an east wind, and they sailed ; weather full fair they
had, and came to Thorgeirs-firth and found the
chapmen still there. Then Odd sailed west along
the land, and came to Midfirth when he had now
been away seven weeks.
So was the bridal dight, and there lacked not
for good cheer and plenteous : much folk came
thither ; there were Gellir and Egil, and many
other great men.
The feast was holden well and gloriously, and
men deemed no better wedding had been holden
here in the land.
So when the feast was spent, then were men led
out with great gifts, but most of wealth went to
Then spake Gellir to Odd : "I would that
Egil were well treated ; for he is full worthy
The Banded Men. 1 19
" Meseemeth," said Odd, "that my father hath
already done well by him."
" Yea, but do thou better that," said Gellir.
So Gellir rode away, he and his. Egil also
rideth away, and Odd bringeth him on his road,
and thanketh him for his help : " I may not do so
well by thee as should be," said he, " but I have let
drive yesterday south to Burg sixty wethers and two
oxen, and they will abide thee at home : nor will I
ever treat thee but well whiles we both live."
So they parted, and Egil was right well pleased,
and they bound fast their friendship. So fared
Egil home to Burg.
CHAPTER XIII. OF THE ENDING OF USPAK.
THAT same harvest gathereth Hermund
folk, and fareth out to Hwammsleet, being
minded for Burg to burn Egil in his house :
but when they came out by Valfell, they heard as
if a string twanged up in the fell, and thereon Her-
mund felt a sickness, and a smart under his arm,
and theyliad to turn back, and the sickness waxed
heavy upon him ; and when they were come by
Thorgaut-stead they had to lift him off, and then
they fared to Sidamuli for a priest, but when he
came Hermund was speechless ; so the priest abode
by him, and on a time as the priest looked on
him there came a murmur on to his lips : " Two
hundreds in the ghyll, two hundreds in the
And therewithal he gave up the ghost, and so
ended his life-days, even as is here said.
1 20 The Saga Library.
Now abideth Odd at his house in great estate ;
and his wife he loveth well.
All this while nought had been heard of Uspak :
a man named Mar married Swala ; he was the son
of Hildi ; he took up his abode at Swalastead ; a
brother he had named Bialfi, half-witted, but a
strong man. There was one named Bergthor, who
dwelt at Bodvarsknolls : he had summed up the
case when Uspak was outlawed ; and so on an eve
at Bodvarsknolls, when men were sitting by the
fires, it fell out that one came and smote on the
door and bade the master come out ; but the master
wotted that Uspak was come there, and said that
he would nowise go out. Uspak egged him much
thereto, but none the more would he go, and all
others he forbade to stir abroad ; so they two
parted. But on the morrow when women came to
the byre, lo ! nine cows wounded to death. This
was heard of far and wide.
Again, as time wore on, it befell that a man came
to Swalastead, and into the hall wherein slept Mar:
that man went up to the bed, and thrust Mar
through with a sax. It was Uspak, and he sang :
Drew I new-grinded
Glaive from scabbard,
Against the maw
Of Mar I sped it,
So sore I grudged
That son of Hildi
The breast of Swala
Even therewith, as he turned toward the door,
up sprang Bialfi, and thrust at him with a whittle.
Uspak went to a house called Burgknolls, and
The Banded Men. 1 2 1
declared the slaying there ; then he went his ways,
and nought was heard of him for a while. The
slaying of Mar was heard of far and wide, and
deemed a dreadful hap. Then came this tidings,
that the best stallions Odd owned, five together,
were found dead, which deed folk laid on Uspak.
But now a long while wore, and nought was
heard of him ; but in harvest, when men went
after the wethers, they found a cave in certain
rocks, and in the cave a dead man, beside whom
stood a basin of blood as black as tar. This was
Uspak, and folk deemed that the hurt Bialfi had
given him must have grieved him, and that he had
died from want of help : so ended his life-days.
It is not told that there was any blood-suit for the
slaying of Mar, or the slaying of Uspak.
Odd abode at Mel till his old age, and was
deemed a most noble man ; from him are come the
Midfirthers, Snorri Kalfson, and many other great
Ever after endured the goodwill and kindly
affection between the father and son. And here
endeth this story.
HEN T H O R I R.
MAP OF THE COVN
TRY OF THE HEN
CHAPTER I. OF MEN OF BURGFIRTH.
THERE was a man hight Odd, the son of
Onund Broadbeard, the son of Wolf of
Fitiar, the son of Thorir the Stamper ; he
dwelt at Broadlairstead in Reekdale of Burgfirth.
His wife was Jorun, a wise woman and well
spoken of. Four children had they, two sons of
good conditions, and two daughters : one of their
sons hight Thorod, and the other Thorwald ;
Thurid was one daughter of Odd, and Jofrid the
other. Odd was by-named Odd-a-Tongue ; he
was not held for a man of fair dealings.
A man named Torfi, the son of Valbrand, the
son of Valthiof, the son of Orlyg of Esjuberg, had
wedded Thurid, daughter of Odd-a-Tongue, and
they dwelt at the other Broadlairstead.
There was a man hight Arngrim, the son of
Helgi, the son of Hogni, who came out with Hro-
mund ; he dwelt at Northtongue ; he was called
Arngrim the priest, and his son was Helgi.
There was a man hight Blundketil, son of Geir
the Wealthy, the son of Ketil Blund, after whom
1 26 The Saga Library.
is Blundwater named : he dwelt at Ornolfsdale
somewhat above where the house now standeth ;
there were many steads upward from it ; and his
son was Herstein. Blundketil was the wealthiest
of all men, and the best conditioned of all men of
the ancient faith ; thirty tenants he had, and was
the best-beloved man of the countryside.
There was a man called Thorkel Welt, the son
of Red Biorn ; he dwelt at Swigniskarth, west-away
of Northwater. Helgi his brother dwelt at Hwamm
in North waterdale ; another brother was Gunnwald,
who had to wife Helga, daughter of Thorgeir of
Withymere. Thorkel Welt was a wise man and
well-befriended, very wealthy of goods.
There was a certain man hight Thorir, needy
of money, not well-loved of the folk : his wont it
was to go a-huckstering in summer-tide from one
countryside to the other, selling in one place what
he had bought in another ; by which peddling his
wealth waxed fast; and on a time when he went
from the south over Holtbeacon Heath, he had
hens with him in his journey to the north country,
and sold them with his other wares, wherefore
was he called Hen Thorir.
Now throve Thorir so much that he bought him
land at a place called the Water, up from North-
tongue, and but a few winters had he set up house
before he became so very wealthy that he had
moneys out with well-nigh every man. Yet though
his fortune were amended, yet still prevailed his
ill favour amongst men, for hardly was there any
so well-hated as was Hen Thorir.
Hen Thorir. 127
CHAPTER II. HEN THORIR FOSTERS HELGI ARN-
ON a day Thorir went his ways from home
and rode to Northtongue to see Arngrim
the priest, and craved to have the foster-
ing of a child of his. " I would," said he, "take
to me Helgi thy son, and heed him all I can, and
have thy friendship in return, and furtherance herein,
to wit, the getting of my rights from men."
Arngrim answered : " Little furtherance to me
do I see in this fostering." Answered Thorir : " I
will give the lad my money to the half-part rather
than lose the fostering of him : but thou shalt right
me and be bound thereto, with whomsoever I may
have to do."
Arngrim answered : " Sooth to say, I will not
put from me so good an offer."
So Helgi went home with Thorir, and the stead
has been called thenceforward Helgi water. And
now Arngrim gave an eye to Thorir's business,
and straightway men deemed him harder yet to
deal with ; he got his rights now of every man,
and throve exceedingly in wealth, and became
an exceeding rich man, but his ill favour stuck to
On a summer came a ship into Burgfirth, but lay
not in the river-mouth, but in the roads without.
Erne was the shipmaster's name, a man well-liked,
and the best of chapman-lads. Now Odd heard of
the ship's coming, and he was wont to come in
good time to the opening of markets, and settle
the prices of men's ladings, for he had the rule of
1 28 The Saga Library.
the countryside; neither durst any man fall to
chaffer before they wotted what he would do. So
now he went to the chapmen, and asked them what
they had a mind to do about their voyage, and how
soon they would have their market; and there-
withal he told them of his wont of settling the prices
of men's ladings. Erne answered : " We have a
mind to be masters of our own for all thou mayst
have to say; since not a penny's worth in the
lading is thine ; so this time thy words will be
mightier than thy deeds."
Odd answered : " I misdoubt me that it will do
worse for thee than for me : so be it then ; for hereby
I proclaim that I forbid all men to have any chaffer
with you, or to land any goods ; yea, I shall take
money from all such as give you any help ; and I
know that ye shall not away out of the haven be-
fore the spring-tide."
Erne answered : " Say what thou wilt ; but none
the more for that will we let ourselves be cowed."
Now Odd rides home, but the Eastmen lie in
the haven wind-bound.
CHAPTER III. BLUNDKETIL TAKES THE EASTMEN TO
THE next day Herstein, Blundketil's son,
rode west to Akraness, and he met the
Eastmen as he came back, and found an
old acquaintance in the master, and that was much
to his mind.
Erne told Herstein what great wrong Odd
had offered them. " And," quoth he, " we mis-
Hen Thorir. 129
doubt us how we shall go about our affair." So
they talked together daylong, and at eve rides Her-
stein home, and tells his father of the mariners to
what pass their business has come. Blundketil
answered : " I know the man now from thy story of
him, for I was with his father when I was a child,
nor ever fell I in with a fellow better at need than
was he : so ill it is that his son is hard bestead,
and his father would look to me to take some heed
to his fortune if need were ; so betimes to-morrow
shalt thou ride down to the Haven, and bid him
hither with as many men as he will ; or if he be
liefer thereto, then will I flit him north or south, or
where he will; and I will help him with all my
heart as far as in me lies."
Herstein said it was good rede and manly : " Yet
it is to be looked for that we shall have some folks'
displeasure for it." Blundketil answered : "Whereas
we have to carry about nought worse than Odd,
we may lightly bear it." So weareth the night,
and betimes on the morrow Blundketil let gather
horses from the pastures, and when all was ready
Herstein drave an hundred horses to meet the
chapmen, nor need they crave any from any other
stead. So he came thitherto them, and told Erne
what his father had taken on himself. Erne said
he would take that with a good heart, but that he
deemed the father and son would have the enmity
of others for it ; but Herstein said they heeded it
nought. Then said Erne : " Well, my crew shall
be flitted into other countrysides, for the risk is
enough, though we be not all in one and the same
house." So Herstein had Erne and his lading home
130 The Saga Library.
with him, and left not before all the chapmen were
gone, and the ship laid up, and all brought into due
Blundketil received Erne wondrous well, and
there he abode in good entertainment.
But now were tidings brought to Odd of what
Blundketil had done, and men talk over it, and say
that he had set himself up against Odd thereby.
Odd answereth : " So may folk say; but Blundketil
is such a man as is both sturdy and well-beloved, so
I will even let the matter alone."
And so all is quiet.
CHAPTER IV. HAY-NEED THIS SEASON.
THAT summer was the grass light and bad,
and hay-harvest poor because of the wet,
and men had exceeding small hay-stores.
Blundketil went round to his tenants that autumn,
and told them that he would have his rents paid in
hay on all his lands : " For I have much cattle to
fodder, and little hay enow ; but I will settle how
much is to be slaughtered this autumn in every
house of my tenants, and then will matters go well."
Now weareth summer away and cometh winter,
and there soon began to be exceeding scarcity north
about the Lithe, and but little store there was to
meet it, and men were hard pressed. So weareth
the time over Yule, and when Thorri-tide was come
folk were sore pinched, and for many the game
But on an evening came to Blundketil one of his
tenants, and told him that hay had failed him, and
Hen Thorir. 131
prayed deliverance of him. Master Blundketil
answered : "How cometh that ? I deemed that I
had so looked to it in the autumn that things would
be like to go well."
The man answered that less had been slaughtered
than he had commanded. Then said Blundketil :
" Well, let us make a bargain together : I will de-
liver thee from thy trouble this time, but thou shalt
tell no man thereof ; because I would not that folk
should fall to coming on me : all the less since ye
have not kept my commandment."
So that man fared home, and told his friend that
Blundketil was peerless among men in all dealings,
and that he had helped him at his need ; and that
man in turn told his friend, and so the matter be-
came known all over the countryside.
Time wore and Go'i came, and therewith came
two more of the tenants to Blundketil, and told
him that they were out of hay. Blundketil an-
swered : " Ye have done ill in departing from my
counsel ; for so it is, that though I have hay good
store, yet have I more beasts therewithal : now if
I help you, then shall I have nought for my own
stock ; lo you ! that is the choice herein. But they
pressed the case, and bewailed their misery, till
he thought it pity of their moans, and so let drive
home an hundred and forty horses, and let slay
forty of the worst of them, and gave his tenants
the fodder these should have had : so they fare
home glad at heart. But the winter worsened as
it wore, and the hope of many a man was quenched.
132 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER V. BLUNDKETIL WOULD BUY HAY OF HEN
N" OW when One-month was come came
two more of Blundketil's tenants to him ;
they were somewhat better to do, but
their hay had failed them now, and they prayed
him to deliver them. He answered and said that
he had not wherewithal, and that he would slaughter
no more beasts. Then they asked if he knew of
any man who had hay to sell, and he said he
knew not for certain ; but they drive on the matter,
saying that their beasts must die if they get no
help of him ; he said : " It is your own doing ; but
I am told that Hen Thorir will have hay to sell."
They said : " We shall get nought of him unless
thou go along with us, but he will straightway
sell to us if thou become our surety in the
He answers : " I may do as much as to go
with you, for it is meet that they should sell who
So they fare betimes in the morning, and there
was a drift of wind from the north, which was
somewhat cold ; master Thorir was standing with-
out at the time, and when he saw folk coming
toward the garth, in he walks again, shuts to the
door, draws the bolt, and goes to his day-meal.
Now was the door smitten on, and the lad Helgi
took up the word and said : " Go thou out, foster-
father, for here be men come to see thee." Thorir
said he would eat his meat first ; but the lad ran
from the table, and came to the door and greeted
Hen Thorir. 133
the new-comers well. Blundketil asked if Thorir
were within, and the lad said that so it was. " Bid
him come out to us then," said Blundketil. The
lad did so, and said that Blundketil was without,
and would see Thorir. He answered : " Wherefore
must Blundketil be sniffing about here ? It is won-
drous if he come for any good ; I have nought to
do with him."
Then goes the lad and says that Thorir will
not come out. " Then shall we go in," said Blund-
ketil. So they go into the chamber and are greeted
there, but Thorir held his peace. " Things are
come to this, Thorir," said Blundketil, "that we
would buy hay of thee."
Thorir answered : " Thy money is no better to
me than mine own."
" That is as it may be," said Blundketil.
Thorir said : "How comest thou, rich man as
thou art, to lack hay ? " " Nay, I am not come to
that," said Blundketil ; " I am dealing for my
tenants here, who verily need help, and I would
fain get it for them if it were to be got."
Said Thorir : " Thou art right welcome to give
to others of thine own, but not of mine."
Blundketil answered : " We will not ask a gift :
let Odd and Arngrim be thine umpires, and I will
give thee gifts moreover."
Thorir said : " I have no hay to sell ; and, more-
over, I will not sell it." Then went Blundketil out,
and those fellows and the lad with them ; and then
Blunketil took up the word and said : " Which is
it, that thy foster-father has no hay, or that he
will not sell it ? "
134 The Saga Library.
" Hay enough he has to sell if he would," an-
swers the lad. Blundketil said : " Bring us to where
the haystacks are."
He did so, and then Blundketil made a reckoning
of the fodder for Thorir's stock, and made out
that if they were all stall-fed up to the time of the
Althing, there would still be of the hay five stacks
over ; so herewith they go in again, and Blundketil
says : " I reckon about thy stock of hay, Thorir,
that if all thy beasts were fed at stall till the Althing,
there would yet be a good deal left over ; and that
would I buy of thee." Thorir answered : " And
what shall I do for hay next winter then, if it is
like this or worse ? " Says Blundketil : " I will
give thee the choice to take just the same lot of
hay and no worse in the summer, and I will bring
it into thy garth for thee."
Thorir answered : " If thou hast no store of hay
now, why shouldst thou have more in the summer ?
but I know there is such odds of might between
us, that thou mayest take my hay in despite of me
if thou wilt."
Blundketil answers : " That is not the way to
take it : thou wottest that silver goeth in all the
markets of the land here, and therein will I pay
" I will not have thy silver," said Thorir.
"Then take thou such wares as Odd and Arn-
grim shall award thee," said Blundketil.
" Here are but few workmen," said Thorir, "and
I like going about but little, nor will I be dragged
hither and thither in such dealings."
Blundketil answereth : " Then shall I let bear
Hen Thorir. 135
the goods home for thee." Thorir said : " I have no
house-room for them, and they shall certainly be
Answereth Blundketil : " I shall get thee hides,
then, to do over them, so that they shall be safe."
Thorir answers : " I will not have other men
scratching about in my store-houses."
Says Blundketil : " Then shall they be at my
house through the winter, and I will take care of
them for thee."
" I know all thy babble now," said Thorir, " and
I will in no wise deal with thee."
Blundketil said : " Then must things go a worser
road ; for the hay will we have all the same, though
thou forbid it, and lay the price thereof in its stead,
making the most of it that we are many."
Then Thorir held his peace, but his mind was
nothing good. Blundketil let take ropes and bind
up the hay, and then they hove it up in loads on
to the horses and bore it away ; but made up the
price in full.
CHAPTER VI. THORIR WOULD MAKE A CASE AGAINST
N" OW shall we tell what Thorir fell to : he
gat him gone from home with Helgi his
foster-son, and they ride to Northtongue,
and are greeted there wondrous well, and Arngrim
asks for tidings. Thorir answered : " I have heard
of nought newer than the robbery."
" Nay, now, what robbery ? " said Arngrim.
Thorir answered : " Blundketil has robbed me
136 The Saga Library.
of all my hay, so that there is hardly a wisp left to
throw to the neat in the cold weather."
" Is it so, Helgi ? " asked Arngrim.
" Not one whit," said Helgi ; " Blundketil did
right well in the matter." And therewith he told
how the thing had gone between them.
Then said Arngrim : " Yea, that is more like ;
and the hay that he hath gotten is better bestowed
than that which shall rot on thine hands."
Thorir answered : "In an evil hour I offered
fostering to thy child ; forsooth, whatsoever ill deed
is done to me in mine own house none the more
shall I be righted here, or holpen at thine hands ;
a mighty shame is that to thee."
Arngrim answers : " Forsooth, that was a rash
deed from the first, for I wot that in thee I have to
do with an evil man."
" Nay, words will not slay me," said Thorir ;
" but I am ill content that thou rewardest my good
deeds in such wise ; but so it is that what men rob
from me is taken from thee no less." They parted
with things in such a plight. Thorir rides away,
and comes to Broadlairstead, where Odd greeted
him well, and asked for tidings.
" Nought have I heard newer than the robbery,"
said Thorir. "Nay, now, what robbery?" said
Thorir answered : " Blundketil took all my hay,
so that my store is clean gone ; and I would fain
have thy furtherance ; moreover, the matter toucheth
thee, whereas thou art a ruler in the countryside,
to right what is wrong ; and thou mayest call to
mind withal that he hath made himself thy foe."
Hen Thorir. 137
Odd asked : " Is it so, Helgi ? " He answered that
Thorir had wrested the matter clean away from the
truth, and he set forth how the whole thing had
gone. Odd answered : " I will have nought to do
with it ; I should have done likewise if need had
been." Said Thorir : " True is the saw that saith,
' Best but to hear of woeful thanes ; ' and this also :
' A man's foes are those of his own house.' "
Therewithal rides Thorir away, and Helgi with
him, and home he fareth ill-content.
CHAPTER VII. OF THORWALD, ODD-A-TONGUE's SON.
THORWALD, the son of Odd-a-Tongue,
had come ashore that summer in the north
country, and had guested there through
the winter ; but as it drew toward summer he fared
from the north to go see his father, and abode a
night at Northtongue in good cheer. Now there
was a man guesting there already, called Vidfari, a
gangrel man, who went from one corner of the land
to the other ; he was nigh akin to Thorir, and like
to him in mind and mood. So that same evening
he gathered up his clothes and took to his heels,
and ran away, and stayed not till he came to
Thorir, who welcomed him with open arms, saying,
" Surely something good will come to me of thy
coming." He answered : " That may well be, for
now is Thorwald Oddson come to Northtongue,
and is a-guesting there now."
Said Thorir: " I thought I saw some good coming
to me from thine hands, so well was all with
138 The Saga Library.
So weareth the night, and the first thing on the
morrow rideth Thorir with his foster-son to North-
tongue : thereto was come much folk, but the lad
had a seat given to him, while Thorir wandered
about the floor.
Now Thorwald, a-sitting on the dais, sets eyes
on him as he talks privily to Arngrim, of whom he
asketh : " What man is he wandering about the
floor yonder ? "
Arngrim answereth : " That is my son's fosterer."
" Yea," says Thorwald ; " why shall he not have
a seat then ? "
Arngrim says : " That is no matter of thine."
" Well, it shall not be so," says Thorwald ; and
he lets call Thorir to him therewith, and gives him
a seat beside himself, and asks for the tidings most
spoken about. Thorir answered : " Sore was I
tried whereas Blundketil robbed me."
" Are ye at one on it ? " said Thorwald.
" Far from it," said Thorir.
" How cometh it, Arngrim," said Thorwald,
" that ye great men let such shameful doings go
Arngrim answered : " It is mostly lies, and
there is but little in the bottom of the matter."
" Yet it was true that he had the hay ? " said
" Yea," said Arngrim, " he had it sure enough."
" Every man has a right to rule his own," says
Thorwald ; " and withal your friendship for him
goes for little if thou let him be trodden under
" Thou art dear to my heart, Thorwald," said
Hen Thorir. 139
Thorir, "and my heart tells me that thou wilt
right my case somewhat."
Said Thorwald : " I am but feeble to lean on."
Thorir said : " I will give thee half my wealth
for the righting of my case, that I may have either
outlawry or self-doom, so that my foes may not sit
over mine own."
Arngrim said : " Do it not, Thorwald, for in him
ye have no trusty fellow to back up ; and in Blund-
ketil thou wilt have to do with a man both wise
and mighty, and well befriended on all sides."
" I see," said Thorwald, " that envy hath got hold
of thee for my taking of his money, and that thou
grudgest it me."
Said Thorir : " Consider, Thorwald, that my
wealth will be found to be in good kind ; and other
men wot that far and wide money for mine own
goods is withheld from me."
Arngrim said : " I would fain hinder thee still,
Thorwald, from taking up this case, but thou must
even do as it seemeth good to thee ; I misdoubt me
though, that things great and evil will come of this."
Thorwald answers : " Well, I will not refuse
Now hansels Thorir half his wealth to him, and
therewith the case against Blundketil.
Then spake Arngrim again : "How art thou
minded to set about the case ?" Thorwald answered :
" I shall first go see my father, and take counsel
" Nay," said Thorir, " that is not to my mind :
I will not hang back now I have staked so much
hereon ; I will have you go summon Blundketil
140 The Saga Library.
forthwith to-morrow." Thorwald answereth : " It
will be seen of thee that thou art no lucky man,
and ill will be born of thee ; yet now thou must
needs have thy way."
So he and Thorir bind themselves to meet on
the morrow at a place appointed.
CHAPTER VIII. THE SUMMONING OF MASTER BLUND-
BETIMES on the morrow, therefore, rides
Thorwald and Arngrim with him, thirty
men in company, and meet Thorir, who had
but two with him, Helgi Arngrimson, to wit, and
Vidfari, Thorir's kinsman. " Why are ye so few,
Thorir," said Thorwald. Thorir answered : " I
knew well that ye would not lack men."
So they ride up along the Lithe, and their going
was seen from the steads, and every man ran from
out his house, and he thought himself happiest who
got first to Blundketil's, so that a many men awaited
Thorwald and his folk ride up to the garth, and
leap off their horses, and walk up to the house.
Blundketil sees it and goes to meet them and bids
them take due entertainment. Said Thorwald :
" Other errand have we here than the eating of
meat ; I will wot how thou wilt answer for that
matter of the taking of Thorir's hay in his despite."
" Even as to him," said Blundketil, " award it at
what price soever ye will, and to thee will I give
gifts over and above ; the better and the more
to thee as thou art the more worthy than Thorir ;
Hen Thorir. 141
and I shall make thine honour so great, that all
men shall be a-talking of it how thou art well
Thorwald was silent, for he deemed this well
offered, but Thorir answered and said : " We will
not take it; there is no need to think of it ; this
choice I had erewhile, and little do I deem me
holpen if so it be ; and it avails me little that I have
given thee my wealth."
Then said Thorwald : " What wilt thou do,
Blundketil, as to the law herein ? "
" Nothing but this, that thou award and shape
it thyself alone, even as thou wilt."
Then answered Thorwald : " Well, meseemeth,
there is nothing for it but to take the case into
court." And therewith he summoned Blundketil
for robbery, naming witnesses thereto, and his
words and the summoning were of the hardest that
Now turneth Blundketil back toward the house,
and meeteth Erne the Eastman a-going about his
wares. Erne asked : " Art thou wounded, master,
that thou art red as blood ? "
" Nay, I am not wounded," said he, " but I had
as lief be, for I have had words said to me that
never have been uttered before ; I am called thief
Erne takes his bow and sets an arrow on the
string, and he comes out just as the others were a-
leaping a-horseback ; he shot, and a man met the
arrow, and sank down from his horse who but
Helgi, son of Arngrim the priest they ran to him,
but Thorir pushed forward between them, and
142 The Saga Library.
thrust the men from him, bidding them give place :
" For this concerneth me most." He bent down
over Helgi, who was verily dead by now ; but
Thorir said : " Is there yet a little might in thee,
foster-son ? " Then he arose from the corpse and
said : " The lad spake twice to me in the same
wise, even thus : ' Burn ! Burn Blundketil In! '
Then answered Arngrim and said : " Now it
fares as I misdoubted ; for, Oft cometh ill from
an ill man ; and verily I feared that great ill would
come from thee, Thorir, and now, in spite of thy
babble, I wot not if the lad really spoke it, though
it is not unlike that it will come to that ; for evilly
the thing began, and in likewise shall end mayhap."
" Meseemeth," said Thorir, " that something lieth
nearer to thine hand than scolding at me."
So Arngrim and his folk ride away to the edge
of a wood and leap off their horses, and abide there
Blundketil thanked his men well for their help-
ing, and so bade every man ride his ways home as
he best might.
CHAPTER IX. THE BURNING OF BLUNDKETIL.
SO it is said that at nightfall Thorwald and
his company ride to the house at Ornolfs-
dale, where all folk were now asleep ; there
they drag a stack of brushwood to the house, and
set fire thereto; and Blundketil and his folk awoke
not before the house was ablaze over them.
Blundketil asked who had lighted that hot fire,
and Thorir told who they were. Blundketil asked
Hen Thorir. 143
if aught might get him peace ; but Thorir said :
" There is nought for it but to burn." And they de-
parted not before every man's child therein was
Now Herstein, Blundketil's son, had gone that
evening to his foster-father, Thorbiorn, who was
by-named the Strider, and of whom it was said
that he was not always all utterly there where he
was seen. So Herstein awoke the next morning,
and asked his foster-father if he were awake.
" Yea," said he, " what wilt thou ?"
" Medreamed that my father came in hither with
his raiment all ablaze, and even as one flame he
seemed to me." Then they arise and go out, and
see the fire presently : so they take their weapons,
and go thither in haste ; but all men were gone
away by then they came thither. Said Herstein :
" Woeful tidings have befallen here ; what rede
now ? "
Thorbiorn answers : "Now will I make the most
of the offer which Odd-a-Tongue hath often made
me, to come to him if I were in any need."
" Nought hopeful I deem that," saith Herstein.
But they go nevertheless, and come to Broadlair-
stead, and call out Odd ; who cometh out and
greeteth them, and asketh for tidings ; so they told
him what had come to pass, and he spake as deem-
ing it ill. Then Thorbiorn taketh up the word :
" So it is, master Odd," saith he, " that thou hast
promised me thy furtherance ; now therefore will I
take it of thee if thou wilt give us some good
rede, and bring it to pass."
Odd said that he would do even so; and so they
144 The Saga Library.
ride to Ornolfsdale, and come there before day ; by
then were the houses fallen in, and the fire was
So Odd rideth to a certain house that was not
utterly burned ; there he laid hold of a birch rafter,
and pulled it down from the house, and then rode
with the burning brand withershins round about
the house, and spake : " Here take I land to my-
self, for here I see no house inhabited ; hearken
ye to this all witnesses hereby." And therewithal
he smote his horse, and rode away. Then said
Herstein : "What rede now ? This one has turned
out ill." Said Thorbiorn : " Hold thou thy peace
if thou mayest, whatsoever befall."
Herstein answered and said that all he had
spoken hitherto was not overmuch forsooth. Now
the outbower wherein was the lading of the East-
men was unburned, and much other goods was there-
in moreover. Herewith old Thorbiorn vanished
away, and as Herstein looked on the house, he saw
this outbower opened, and the goods borne out, but
yet beheld no man. Then are the goods bound up
into loads ; and then he hears a great clatter in the
home-mead, and lo ! his father's horses are being
driven home, and the sheep, and the neat from the
byre, and all the live-stock : then were the loads
heaved up, and the whole drove went their ways,
and every penny's- worth brought off. Then Her-
stein turned about, and saw that master Thorbiorn
was driving the cattle.
So they wend their ways down along the country-
side to Staffholts-tongue, and so west over North-
Hen Thorir. 145
CHAPTER X. OF THORKEL WELT AND GUNNAR
THE shepherd of Thorkel Welt of Swigni-
skarth went to his sheep that morning, and
he saw them a-faring on and driving all
kind of cattle ; so he told Thorkel thereof, who
answers : " I wot how it will be ; these will be the
men of Thwartlithe, my friends, who have been
sore pinched by the winter, and will be driving
their beasts hither : they shall be welcome, for I
have hay enough, and here are enough winter
pastures open for grazing beasts." So he went out
when they came into the home-mead, and gave
them good welcome, and bade them to all good
things that they would have ; yea, scarce might
they get off their horses, he was so eager-kind with
them. But Thorbiorn said : " Thy good welcome
is a great matter, and much lies on thy holding to
all thou hast promised us."
Said Thorkel : " I wot of thine errand, that ye
would leave the beasts behind here, where forsooth
there lacketh not open pastures and good." Thor-
biorn said : " That will we take."
Then he taketh Thorkel aside by the houses,
and said : " Great tidings and evil are abroad."
Thorkel asked what they were.
" Master Blundketil was burned in his house
last night," said Thorbiorn.
"Who wrought that deed of shame ? " said Thorkel .
So Thorbiorn told the whole story of it, saying
moreover : " Herstein here hath need of thine
146 The Saga Library.
Thorkel says : " It is not so sure that I should
have been so busy with my offers had I known hereof
before ; but my redes shall even go down the road
they set out on ; and first come ye in to meat."
They said yea thereto. Thorkel Welt was of
few words, and somewhat thoughtful ; but when
they had eaten, he bade them to horse ; and they
take their weapons, and get a-horseback, but
Thorkel rode first that day, and gave command
that the beasts in the pasture should be well heeded,
and those at stall fed plenteously. So ride they
now to Woodstrand, to Gunnarstead, which lieth
on the inner side of the Strand. There dwelt a
man named Gunnar, the son of Hlifar, a big man
and a strong, and the greatest of champions ; he
was wedded to a sister of Thord Gellir called
Helga, and had two daughters, Jofrid and Thurid.
Thither they come late in the day, and get off
their horses up above the house ; the wind was in
the north, and it was somewhat cold. So Thorkel
goes to the door and knocks, and a house-carle
comes thereto, and greets the new-comer well,
asking who he might be. Thorkel says he would
be none the wiser though he tell him, and bids
him bid Gunnar come out. H e said that Gunnar was
gotten to bed; but Thorkel bids him say that a man
would see him. The house-carle does so, goes in,
and tells Gunnar that here is a man will see him.
Gunnar asks who it might be ; the house-carle said
he wotted not, but that he was great of growth.
Gunnar said : " Go and tell him to abide here
The house-carle went and did as Gunnar bade ;
Hen Thorir. 147
but Thorkel said he would not take that bidding
from a thrall, but from the master himself. The
house-carle said that, be that as true as it might
be, Gunnar was not wont to arise benights. " Do
one of two things," said he ; " either go away, or
come in and abide here to-night."
" Do thou one of two things," said Thorkel,
" either go bear my errand doughtily to Gunnar,
or have my sword-hilt on the nose of thee." The
house-carle ran in, and shut to the door, and
Gunnar asked why he went on so wildly ; but he
said that he would talk no more with the new-
comer, for that he was exceeding rough of speech.
Then Gunnar arose, and went out into the home-
mead ; and he was clad in shirt and linen breeches,
with a cloak cast over him, black shoes on his feet,
and his sword in his hand ; he greeted Thorkel
well, and bade him come in, but he said there were
more of them in company. So Gunnar goeth out
into the home-mead ; but Thorkel catcheth hold of
the door-ring, and shutteth to the door, and then
they go round to the back of the house. There
Gunnar welcomes them, but Thorkel said : " Sit
we down, because we have many things to say to
They did so, sitting on either hand of him, and
so close that they sat on the very skirts of the
cloak that Gunnar had over him. Then spake
Thorkel : " So it falleth out, master Gunnar, that
here is a man in my company called Herstein, son
of Blundketil, nor need we hide our errand from
thee, that he comes a-wooing Thurid thy daughter
of thee ; and for this cause have I come hither with
148 The Saga Library.
him, that I would not thou turn the man away, for
meseemeth it is a most meet match ; withal we
shall deem it no little matter if he be deemed un-
worthy, he and my furtherance, yea, or if he be
Gunnar said : " I may not answer to this matter
alone ; I will take counsel with her mother, and
with my daughter herself, and especially with
Thord Gellir, her kinsman ; yet have we heard
nought but good of the man, or his father either,
and it is a matter to be looked to."
Then answered Welt : " Thou must know that
we will not be dangling about the woman, and we
think the match no less for thine honour than for
ours ; wondrous I deem it that a wise man like
thee should ponder matters in such a good match
as is this ; moreover, we will not have come from
home for nothing ; wherefore, Herstein, I will give
thee whatso help thou wilt to bring this about if
he know not his own honour."
Gunnar answered : " I cannot make out why
ye are so hasty in this, or why ye go nigh even
to threaten me ; for the match is an even one ;
but I may look for any mischief from you ; so I
must even take the rede of stretching forth my
So did he, and Herstein named witnesses for
himself, and betrothed himself to the woman.
Then they stand up, and go in, and are well served.
Now Gunnar asks for tidings ; and Thorkel
sayS that there is none newer than the burning of
Gunnar asked who brought it to pass, and
Hen Thorir. 149
Thorkel says that Thorwald Oddson and Arngrim
the priest were the leaders therein. Gunnar an-
swered in few words ; blamed but little, and praised
nought at all.
CHAPTER XI. THORD BETROTHETH HERSTEIN AND
NEXT morning forthwith is Gunnar afoot,
and coming to Thorkel bids him clothe
himself : so do they, and go to their meat,
and then are the horses got ready, and they leap
a-horseback ; and Gunnar rides ahead in along
the firth, and it is much under ice. So they stay
not till they come to Thord Gellir's at Hwamm,
who greeted them well, and asked for tidings ; but
they told him what seemed good to them. Then
Gunnar calls Thord apart to talk with him, and
says that here in his company are Herstein, Bliind-
ketil's son, and Thorkel Welt : "And their errand
is that Herstein speaketh of tying himself to me
by wedding Thurid my daughter ; what thinkest
thou of the match ? the man is goodly and doughty,
and lacketh not wealth, for his father hath said
that he would give up the house, and that Herstein
is to take the same ? "
Thord answereth : " I like Blundketil well ; for
on a time I strove with Odd-a-Tongue at the Al-
thing for weregild for a thrall which had been
awarded me against him. I went to fetch it in
exceeding foul weather with two men in my com-
pany ; and so we came benight to Blundketil, and
had very fair welcome, and we abode there a week ;
150 The Saga Library.
and he shifted horses with us, giving me certain
good stallions ; such treatment I had from him ; and
yet meseemeth it were no ill rede not to strike the
" Well," said Gunnar, " thou must know that
she will not be betrothed to any other wooer ; for
the man is both doughty and a good man in my
eyes ; and there is danger in what may befall if
he be turned away."
Then Gunnar goes and finds his daughter, for
she was a-fostering with Thord there, and asked
her what her mind was about the wooing ; she an-
swereth that she was not so desirous of men but
that she would deem it just as well to abide at
home : " For I am well looked after with Thord
my kinsman ; yet will I do thy pleasure and his,
in this, as in other things."
Now comes Gunnar to talk with Thord again,
saying that the match looks very seemly to him.
Says Thord : " Why shouldst thou not give thy
daughter to him if thou wilt ? " Gunnar answers :
" I will give her only if thy will be as mine
So Thord says it shall be done by the rede of
" I will,Thord," said Gunnar, " that thou betroth the
woman unto Herstein." Thord answers : " Nay, it
is for thee thyself to betroth thine own daughter."
Says Gunnar : " I should deem myself the more
honoured if thou betroth her, for it were seemlier
So Thord let it be so ; and the betrothal went
on : then spake Gunnar : " I pray thee, moreover,
Hen Thorir. 151
to let the wedding be holden here at Hwamm, for
then it will be done with all honour."
Thord bade him have his way if he thought it
Gunnar says : " We should be minded to have
it in a week's space." Then they get a-horseback,
and go their ways, but Thord brought them on
their road, and asked at last if there were anything
new to tell.
Gunnar answereth : " We have heard nought
newer than the burning of master Blundketil."
Thord asked how that had come about, and
Gunnar told him all the tale of how the burning
had betid, and who was he that stirred it, and who
were they who did it.
Said Thord : " I would not have counselled this
match so hastily had I known this ; ye will deem
that ye have got round me altogether in wit, and
have overcome me with wiles. I see how it is, how-
ever ; ye are not so sure that ye are enough for
this case by yourselves."
Gunnar said : " We deem ourselves safe in lean-
ing on thy help, for thou art bound to help thy
son-in-law even as we are bound to help thee ; for
many heard thee betroth the woman, and all was
done with thy goodwill. Well, good it were to
try once for all which of you great men may hold
out longest ; for ye have long been eating each
the other with the wolfs mouth."
152 The Saga Library.
CHAPTER XII. A WEDDING AT HWAMM.
SO parted they, and Thord is as wroth as
wroth may be, deeming himself bemocked
of them; but they ride to Gunnarstead
first, thinking how they have played their game
well to have brought Thord into the case, and
right joyous are they. They rode not south as
yet, but bade men to the feast, and made for
Hwamm at the time appointed. There had Thord
a many guests, and marshalled men to their seats
in the evening : he himself sat on one bench with
Gunnar his brother-in-law and his men, but
Thorkel Welt sat beside the bridegroom on the
other bench with their guests ; the women filled
So when the boards were set, Herstein the bride-
groom leapt up and over the board to where was
a certain stone ; then he set one foot upon the
stone, and spake : " This oath I swear hereby,
that before the Althing is over this summer I shall
have had Arngrim the priest made fully guilty, or
gained self-doom else." Then back he strode to
Then sprang forth Gunnar and spake : " This
oath swear I, that before the Althing is over this
summer I shall have Thorwald Oddson to out-
lawry, or else self-doom to our side."
Then he stepped back and sat himself down at
the board, and saith to Thord : " Why sittest thou
there, Thord, and vowest nought of thine own
about it ? we wot thou hast e'en such things in thy
heart as we have."
Hen Thorir. 153
Thord answers : " It shall lie quiet, though, for
Answers Gunnar : "If thou wilt that we speak
for thee, then are we ready thereto, and we wot
thou art minded to take Odd-a-Tongue."
Thord said : "Ye may rule your own speech, but
I will be master over my words ; bring that ye have
spoken to a good end."
N ought more to tell of befell at the feast, but it went
on in noble fashion, and when it came to an end, each
went about his own business, and winter wore away.
But in springtide they gathered men, and fared
south to Burgfirth, and, coming to North tongue,
summoned Arngrim and Hen Thorir to the Thing
of Thingness: but Herstein parted company from
them with thirty men to go thither whereas he said
he had heard tell of Thorwald Oddson's last night-
harbour; for Thorwald was gone from his winter
guest-quarters. So the countryside is astir, and there
is much talk, and mustering of men on either side.
CHAPTER XIII. BATTLE ON WHITEWATER.
N' OW it fell out that Hen Thorir vanished
away from the countryside, with twelve
men, when he knew who had come into
the case, and nought was to be heard of him.
Odd gathers force now from the Dales, either
Reekdale and Skorradale, and all the country south
of Whitewater, and had moreover many from other
countries. Arngrim the priest gathered men from
all Thwartwaterlithe, and some part of North water-
dale. Thorkel Welt gathered men from the Nether
154 The Saga Library.
Mires, and from Staffholtstongue ; and some of the
men of North waterdale also he had with him, be-
cause Helgi his brother dwelt at Hwamm, and
he followed him.
Now gathers Thord Gellir men from the west,
but had not many men : so all they who are in the
case meet, and are two hundred men in all : they
ride down to the west of North water, and over it
at Eyiaford above Staff holt, with the mind to cross
Whitewater by the ford of Thrallstream ; then they
see a many men going south of the river, and there
is Odd-a-Tongue with hard on four hundred men :
so they speed on their way, being wishful to come
first to the ford ; they meet by the river, and Odd's
folk leap off their horses, and guard the ford, so that
Thord's company may not pass forth, how fain so-
ever they were to come to the Thing. Then they
fell to fight, and men were presently hurt, and four
of Thord's men fell, amongst whom was Thorolf
Fox, brother of Alf-a-dales, and a man of account ;
therewith they turn away, but one man fell of Odd's
and three were sorely hurt.
So now Thord laid the case to the Althing ; they
ride home west, and men deem the honour of the
west-country folk to be falling. But Odd rides to
the Thing, and sends his thralls home with the
horses ; of whom when they came home Jorun his
wife asked for tidings ; they said they had no other
to tell save that he was come from Broadfirth out
of the west country who alone was able to answer
Odd-a-Tongue, and whose voice and speech were
as the roaring of a bull.
She said it was no tidings though he were an-
Hen Thorir. 155
swered as other men, and that nought had befallen
save what was likeliest to befall. " Ah, there was
a battle though," said they, " and five men fell in all,
and many were hurt." For they had told no whit
of this before.
The Thing wears with nought to tell of; but
when those kinsmen-in-law came home they
changed dwellings ; Gunnar goes into Ornolfsdale,
and Herstein takes Gunnarstead. Then let Gunnar
flit to him from the west all that timber which East-
man Erne had owned, and so gat him home to
Ornolfsdale ; then he falls to and builds up again
the houses at the stead there ; for he was the
handiest of men, and in all things well skilled, the
best of men at arms, and the briskest in all wise.
CHAPTER XIV. OF MATTERS AT THE ALTHING.
SO weareth the time on till men ride to the
Thing, and there is much arraying of men
in the countryside, and either company
rides wondrous many.
But when Thord Gellir and his men come to
Gunnarstead, then is Herstein sick, and may not
fare to the Thing ; so he hands his cases over to
others : thirty men abode behind with him ; but
Thord rides to the Thing. He gathereth to him
kinsfolk and friends, and cometh to the Thing be-
times, which in those days was held under Armans-
fell, and as the companies come in Thord has a
Now is Odd-a-Tongue seen coming. Thord
rideth to meet him, and would not that he should
156 The Saga Library.
get him the peace of the hallowed Thing. Odd is
riding with three hundred men. So Thord and his
folk guard the Thingstead, and men fall to fight
straightway, and very many are hurt.
There fell six of Odd's men, for Thord had many
more than he. Now worthy men see that great
troubles will come of it if the whole Thing gets to
fighting, and late will it be amended ; so they go
betwixt them and part them, and turn the case to
a peaceful awarding ; for Odd was overborne by
numbers and had to give way ; yea, both because
he was deemed to have the heavier case to back,
and because he had the weaker force.
So it was proclaimed that Odd was to pitch his
tents away from the peace of the Thing, and to go
to the courts, and about his errands, and to fare
with meek demeanour, showing no stifif-neckedness,
neither he nor his men.
Then men sit over the cases, and seek how they
may appease them, and it went heavily with Odd,
mostly, indeed, because there was over-mastery
CHAPTER XV. OF HEN THORIR's ENDING.
BU T now shall we tell somewhat of Herstein ;
for his sickness presently left him after
men were gone to the Thing, and he fared
to Ornolfsdale : there early one morning he was in
the stithy, for he was the handiest of men with iron ;
so there came to him thither a goodman called
Ornolf, and said : " My cow is sick, and I pray
thee, Herstein, to come and see her ; we are re-
Hen Thorir. 157
joiced that thou art come back, for thus we have
some of thy father's heart left us, who was of the
greatest avail to us."
Herstein answered : " I take no keep of thy cow,
nor may I know what aileth her."
Said the goodman : " Ah, well ! great is the diffe-
rence betwixt thee and thy father, for he gave me
the cow, and thou wilt not so much as come and
look at her."
Herstein said : " I will give thee another cow if
this one dies."
The goodman said : " Yea, but first of all I
would have thee come and see this." Then
Herstein sprang up, and was wroth, and went with
the goodman, and they turned into a way that led
into the wood ; for a byway went there with the
wood on either hand : but as Herstein went on the
cliff-road he stood still, and he was the keenest-
eyed of men. He said : " A shield peeped out in
the wood yonder."
The goodman held his peace, and Herstein said :
" Hast thou betrayed me, hound ? now if thou art
bound to silence by any oaths, lie down in the path
here, and speak no word ; but if thou do not so, I
will slay thee."
So the goodman lay down, but Herstein turned
back and called on his men, who take their weapons
and go to the wood, and find Ornolf yet in the
path, and bid him go take them to the place where
the meeting was appointed. So they go till they
come to a clearing, and then Herstein said to
Ornolf: " I will not compel thee to speak, but do
thou now even as thou hast been ordered to do."
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So Ornolf ran up a certain knoll and whistled
shrilly, and forth sprang twelve men, and who but
Hen Thorir was the leader of that band.
So Herstein and his company take them and
slay them, and Herstein himself smites the head
from Thorir, and has it along with him. Then
they ride south to the Thing and tell these tidings,
and Herstein is much honoured for the deed, and
his good renown furthered, as was like to be.
Now is peace made in these cases, and the end
of it was that Arngrim the priest was fully out-
lawed, and all those that were at the burning ex-
cept Thorwald Oddson, who was to be away for
three winters, and then be free to come back ;
money was given for the faring over the sea of
other men. Thorwald went abroad that summer,
and was taken captive in Scotland and enthralled
After this the Thing was ended, and men deem
that Thord has carried out the case well and
mightily. Arngrim the priest also went abroad
that summer, but as to what money was paid is
nothing certain. Such was the end of this case.
So then folk ride home from the Thing, and
those of the outlawed fare who were appointed to.
CHAPTER XVI. THOROD ODDSON WOOETH GUNNAR S
GUNNAR HLIFARSON sitteth now at
Ornolfsdale, and has housed himself well
there ; he had much of mountain pastures,
and ever had but few men at home ; Jofrid, Gun-
Hen Thorir. 159
nar's daughter, had a tent without doors, for she
deemed it less dreary so.
It befell on a day that Thorod, son of Odd-a-
Tongue, rode to Thwartwaterlithe ; he came to
Ornolfsdale by the beaten way, and went into Jo-
frid's tent, and she greeted him well ; he sat down
beside her, and they fell to talk together; but
therewith in comes a lad from the mountain-pasture,
and bids Jofrid help take off the loads. Thorod
goes and takes off the loads, and then the lad goes
his way, and comes to the mountain-stead ; there
Gunnar asked him why he was so speedily back,
but he answered nought. Gunnar said : " Sawest
thou ought to tell of ? "
" Nought at all," said the lad. " Nay," said
Gunnar, " there is something in the look of thee
as if a thing had passed before thine eyes which
thou deemest worth talking of; so tell me what it
is, or if any man has come to the house ? "
" I saw no one new-come," said the lad.
" Nay, but thou shalt tell me," said Gunnar ;
and took up a stout switch to beat the boy withal,
but got no more out of him than before ; so then
he mounts and rides swiftly down along the Lithe
by the winter-fold. Jofrid caught sight of her father
as he went, and told Thorod, and bade him ride
away : " For I were loth for any ill to come to
thee by me." Thorod said he would ride presently ;
but Gunnar came on apace, and leaping from his
horse went into the tent.
Thorod greeted him well, and Gunnar took his
greeting, and then asked him why he was come
thither. Thorod told him why he was come : " But
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this I do, not out of enmity to thee, but rather I
would wot how thou wouldst answer me, were I
to woo Jofrid thy daughter of thee."
Gunnar answered : " I will not give her to thee
amidst these goings-on ; for matters have long
stood on a ticklish point betwixt us."
So therewithal rides Thorod home.
CHAPTER XVII. THOROD WEDDETH JOFRID.
ON a day Odd says that it were not ill to
have a little avail of the lands of Ornolfs-
dale : " whereas other men have wrong-
fully sat upon my possessions."
The women said that it were good so to do, for
that the beasts were very scant of milk, and that
they would milk much the better for such change.
" Well, thither shall they," said Odd, " for there is
much good pasture there."
Then said Thorod : " I would go with the cattle,
for then will they deem it a harder matter to set
Odd said he was right fain thereof; so they go
with the cattle, and when they are come a long
way, Thorod bids them drive the beasts where the
pasture is worst and stoniest. So wears the night
away, and they drive the beasts home in the morn-
ing, and when the women have milked them, they
say they have never been so dry before ; wherefore
the thing is not tried again.
Weareth a while away now, till on a morning
early Odd falleth to talk with Thorod his son :
" Go thou down along the countryside, and gather
Hen Thorir. 161
folk; for now will I drive those men from our
possessions ; but Torfi shall fare north over the
Neck, and make this muster known, and we will
meet at Stoneford."
So do they, and gather folk. Thorod and his folk
muster, ninety men in all, and so ride for the ford ;
thereto come first Thorod and his company, and he
biddeth them ride on : "I will await my father."
Now as they come to the garth at Ornolfsdale,
Gunnar was making up a wain-load ; then saith a
lad who was with Gunnar : "Men are faring to the
stead, no little company." " Yea," said Gunnar,
" so it is ; " and he went home to his house, and
took his bow, for he was the best shooter among
men, and came nighest therein to matching
Gunnar of Lithend. He had built a fair house at
the stead, and there was a window in the outer
door wherethrough a man might thrust out his
head ; by this door he stood, bow in hand. Now
comes Thorod to the house, and, going up to the
house with but few men, asks if Gunnar will offer
He answers : " I wot not of aught to be atoned
for, and I look for it that before ye have your will
of me, my handmaidens here will have set the
Sleepthorn into some of yon fellows, or ever I bow
adown in the grass."
Said Thorod : " True it is that thou art wellnigh
peerless among the men that now are, yet may
such a company come against thee as thou mayest
not withstand, for my father is riding to the garth
now with a great company, and is minded to slay
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Gunnar answered : " It is well, but I would have
wished to have had a man before me ere I fall to
field. But I wonder at it nowise, though thy father
keep but little to the peace."
Said Thorod: "Nay, 'tis all the other way; we
wish indeed that thou and I should make a good
and true peace, and that thou stretch forth thine
hand, and give me Jofrid thy daughter."
Gunnar answers : "Thou cowest me not to give
thee my daughter ; yet would the match be not far
from equal as to thee, for thou art a brave man and
Thorod saith : " It will not be so accounted of
amongst men of worth ; and I must needs give
thee many thanks for thy taking this choice on such
condition as befitteth."
So what with the talking over of his friends,
what with thinking that Thorod had ever fared
well of his ways, Gunnar stretched forth his hand,
and so the matter ended.
But even therewith came Odd into the home-
mead, and Thorod straightway turned to meet his
father, and asked him of his intent. Odd said he
was minded to burn up the house and the men
therein ; but Thorod answered : " Another road
have matters gone, for Gunnar and I have made
peace together." And he told how the thing had
betid. " Hearken to the fool ! " saith Odd ; " would
it be any the worse for thee to have the woman if
Gunnar our greatest foe were first slain ? And an
ill deed have I done in ever having furthered
Thorod answered and said : " Thou shalt have
Hen Thorir. 163
to do with me first, if it may no otherwise be
Then men go between them, and the father and
son are appeased, and the end of the matter was
that Thorod was wedded to Jofrid, and Odd was
very ill content.
So folk go home with matters thus done, and
later on men sit at the wedding, and Thorod deems
his lot happy. But at the end of the winter Thorod
fared abroad because he had heard that Thorwald
his brother was in bondage, and he would ransom
him with money ; he came to Norway, but never
back to Iceland again, neither he nor his brother.
Now waxed Odd very old, and when he knew
that neither of his sons would come back to him, a
great sickness took him, and when it grew heavy
on him, he spake to his friends, bidding them bear
him up to Skaney-fell when he was dead, and say-
ing that thence would he look down on all the
Tongue ; and even so was it done.
As for Jofrid, Gunnar's daughter, she was
wedded afterwards to Thorstein Egilson of Burg,
and was the greatest-hearted of women. Thus
endeth the story of Hen Thorir.
AN ADVENTURE OF ODD UFEIGSON WITH KING
ONE summer there came west away from
Iceland Odd the son of Ufeig the son
of Skidi ; they had foul wind, and bore
north to Finmark, and were there the winter
through. And Harold Sigurdson was then king
over Norway. They set sail from the north whenas
spring came on. Then spake Odd to his ship-
mates : " This journey is with some risk," saith he,
" for no man may have any chaffer with the Fins
north here save by the leave of the king or his
bailiff. Moreover, that man has now the bailiwick
and oversight over the Mark who is not deemed
yielding in his ways, Einar Fly to wit ; so I would
now fain wot how much ye have done of chaffer with
the Fins." They gave out that they had had no
chaffer with them. But when they came from the
north down upon the island of Thiotta, a longship
rowed out from the island, and headed for them, and
thereon was Einar Fly.
And when the chapmen saw that, then called
out Odd to them: " Be ye ready now, and beware
lest the Finscat be found with you ; and if, as I
misdoubt me, it is not so sure that ye have not
1 68 The Saga Library.
had dealings with the Fins, then let us put all
those goods together in one place against the ship
Now it turned out even as Odd had guessed,
and each one brought forth what he had bought,
and they hid it away in such wise as Odd thought
likeliest, and they had done the work before Einar
overhauled them. So the longship laid the chap-
man aboard, and the wind was light ; but now it
began to wax somewhat. Odd greeted Einar, for
they knew each other. Said Einar : " Known art
thou, Odd, for things that well beseem a man ; but
ye have been this winter among the Fins, so may-
hap your men have not been as heedful as thou
against chaffering with the Fins ; and whereas in
this matter we have the king's business on hand,
we will ransack your ship." Odd answered and
said that he was welcome to look over the lading ;
and men unlocked their chests. Then Einar and
his men came aboard, and fell to searching the ship
over, and found nought of the Finscat. Then spoke
Einar : " In sooth these men have been more
heedful of their chaffering than I should have
thought ; meseems we may not get to breaking the
bulk much now, for the wind is waxing ; we had best
begone aboard our own ship."
Then said a man a-sittingon the bulk : "This bag
yet I have here ; thou hadst better have a look at
what it holds within it." So he began to loosen the
bag while Einar waited. It was tied round with a
long rope, and the undoing thereof was slow work.
Einar bade him undo in haste, and he said that so
it should be; so out he took therefrom another
bag still more roped about, and it took him long
or ever he might undo this one.
Then said Einar : " This is a slow business of
thine ; " yet he waited still a while to see if aught
might be found in his bag for which he might make
a charge against him. Then out came a third bag,
and when at last he got that opened there was
nought therewithin but rags and things of no worth.
Spake Einar : " Wretchedest of all men ! " said
he, " mocking us thus and making us tarry, till now
the island is wellnigh hull down."
So Einar and his men went aboard their ship
and put off, for the wind rose apace, and they
might not abide by the chapman ; and such was
their parting, that Einar had a stiff beating up
against the wind or ever they reached Thiotta.
Then spake Odd : " Now we have got away
from the masterfulness of Einar Fly, and I should
deem that now a good deal lay on our not coming
across King Harold."
Einar sent forthwith a word to King Harold doing
him to wit what had betid. And when Odd and
those with him came south to Miola, they put
into harbour, the wind failing them for holding on
southward ; but there in the lee of that island lay
King Harold with many ships. Now when they
saw the chapman-keel, the king spake to his men :
" Maybe we are in for a good hap, for here will
be the ship of Odd Ufeigson, with whom I have
an errand, nor wot I that Einar Fly has ever so
thoroughly got the worst of it at any man's hands
as he did in dealing with Odd and his fellows."
So forthwith the king rowed with many men to
1 70 The Saga Library.
the ship of the chapmen, and boarded her. Odd
welcomed the king, but he answered somewhat
angrily : " Thou behavest unworthily to me, Odd,
in that I have ever held thee honourably, but thou
has gone and chaffered with the Fins in my de-
Answered Odd : " Fain would we have taken the
land further to the south than Finmark last autumn,
lord, if the wind had suffered us ; but that was
within my power not to buy aught of them against
Said the king : " I misdoubt me ye have done so
much amiss as to deserve being tied up and hanged
on the horse of tree all of you ; and even if thou
shouldst not thyself have brought it about, meseems
I can see it in thy men clearly enough that they will
not have spared themselves in forbidden chaffer ;
so we shall ransack you."
" That shall be, lord, even as thou wilt," said
Odd. And now it was so done, and they found
nought at all.
There was one hight Thorstein, a young man
and hopeful, a kinsman of Thorir Hound, and a
friend of Odd's, and even now tending on the king ;
he tarried behind on board Odd's ship when the
king went away, and called Odd aside for a privy
talk, and asked if they were aught guilty in this
matter, saying that the king was very wroth and
would make a thorough search.
" Forsooth, friend," said Odd, " we are not
utterly clean of the business ; they began first of
their own wilfulness to buy of the Fins, and after-
wards I gave rede as to how the wares might be
Appendix. 1 7 1
hidden." " Where are those goods bestowed now ? "
says Thorstein. Odd said they were all within
one leathern hammock.
Said Thorstein : " The king will come here again,
and have a search made ; but the hammock within
which the Fin goods are, thou shalt take and lay
under the king, and rear thereupon his high seat ;
and I guess he will not be ware that the goods are
under himself, yet is there some risk in all that."
Then Thorstein went away, but Odd did even
according as he had counselled. And now the king
came and set himself in the seat fitted up for him ;
but his men both searched chests and broke open
whatever else was deemed likeliest to hold aught ;
yet was nought found which they were in search of.
The king said : " I cannot understand how this
comes about, for meseems I know sure enough that
the goods which we seek must be in the ship." Odd
answereth : " It is an old saw, lord, that saith, ' Oft
shall the guesser go astray.' '
Went the king away with his men, but Thor-
stein tarried behind a little while and spake to Odd :
"This shift will avail no longer, for late will the
king put the search out of his mind, and next time he
comes he will find out this sleight ; so let the goods
now go into the sail and brail it up to the yard,
for now must everything be broken up, bulk and
So Odd and those with him did even as Thor-
stein said, and he went away ; and when he came
to the king, he asked what he was tarrying behind
for. Answered Thorstein : " Need, lord, for I had to
put my hose right." But the king was short thereat.
172 The Saga Library.
A little after the king came aboard Odd's ship
and said : " Mayhap thou didst dight that seat of
mine with the Finscat,so there nowshall a search be
made first, and afterwards throughout the ship, and
the more trouble it cost us, the harder shall ye fall."
So they searched wherever they could think of,
and nought could be found.
The king went a-land,butThorstein made shift to
tarry behind him and spake to Odd : " Now nought
will avail you but to carry the Finscat out of the
ship round yonder ness and hide the goods a-land
there ; for here will the king come to-morrow, and
will then deem he has found out this hiding-place,
but I shall now go ashore some other way than the
king has gone, so that he may the less misdoubt
that I have tarried behind here. But at evening
when day is done, haul up anchor and take to thy
sea-craft, Odd. For otherwise the king will lay
such close watch about you, that ye shall not
escape ; for he is a cunning man and a headstrong
in what he has once set his heart on." Odd said
that Thorstein would be under- rewarded indeed for
all the help he had spent on them ; but Thorstein
went away, and Odd and his folk did according to
his word and worked the night through.
But in the morning the king came once more and
had the sail searched as well as the ship elsewhere ;
and the king yet hugged his doubt as to where they
might have hidden away the goods ; but as they
still failed to find them, Odd spake : " Now, lord,"
said he, " surely thou mayst not doubt us further,
for every rag has been unfolded on board of our
Appendix. 1 73
Answered the king : " Nay, that will not be
proven, and no men ever played the fool with me
in such wise before; whensoever it may be paid
for." They might not hang a word on the king, so
wroth he was.
So day wore, and whenas night fell, they brought
the goods a-shipboard and dight them for sea.
And at night- wane a wind arose, and they hove
off the land.
The king awoke betimes and spoke to his men :
" Now methinks I know and see through the whole
shift of Odd and his folk, and belike more people
have had a share therein besides those alone ; yet
now I hope we shall find in their ship what we
have been searching for ; but a death-guilt I might
not lay on them while as yet I only had my doubts
of them ; so let us now go search them." But when
they came without the tilt and looked about they
saw the sail of Odd far out against the islands.
Then said the king : " There now will be the
parting of me and Odd at this time ! But thou,
Thorstein, knowest well how to back up thy friends,
for of more worth thou now holdest Odd than my-
self, and belike thou takest after thy kin in the
matter of treason."
Answered Thorstein : " This is no betrayal of
thee, lord, though thou slay not Odd, who hath long
been a good friend of thine, lord ; and though thou
slay not many other good men also, on a doubtful
guilt. And meseemeth it is true service to thee
to hinder thee from such ill-hap."
So Odd and his crew sailed into the main with
wind at will.
1 74 The Saga Library.
Then spake Odd to his crew : " Now I shall tell
you how things have fared, and the cause where-
fore I have done throughout as I have done. I
bade you buy no more from the Fins than what
was lawful, but to this ye were not able to pay due
heed. And things being so, and we happening
on Einar Fly, I said that ye should make him
seemly offers, yet draw out your talk with him and
hit upon many things to delay him, because I knew
ye were guilt-bitten. Hence I bade you sail while
he tarried, so that thus our parting might the
sooner come about. Now when the king was first
told that the ship was seen, he asked if that might
perchance be our ship. And our friend Thorstein
answered and said that those were men a-fishing.
' Good catch,' said the king, ' he knows, who guile
knows, 1 and that catch shall come to me.' Yet
now we have saved our catch and got off, and
for that same we have mostly to thank Thorstein."
Now Odd came out to Iceland, and fared to his
household at Mel.
At that time there was wayfaring a man called
Harek, a kinsman of Thorstein's. He brought
his ship into Midfirth, and in those days was great
dearth here in Iceland. But Odd bade him stay with
him, and all his crew as many as he would send.
Odd sent out with him a gift to Thorstein, certain
good stallions red of hue and white-maned, and
said that he had been his life-giver. Harek fared
out in summer, and happened on Thorstein, who
1 The reading of Flatey-book, svik, for Jnk of Morkinskinna,
is better. The proverb is addressed of course to Thorstein.
was still with King Harold, and brought him the
horses, and said that Odd had sent them to him.
Said Thorstein : " This is the worst of ill-haps
to me, for but for this, that matter of Odd's might
have been covered up, as well as the aid I gave
them ; but now it may nowise be kept hidden,
and here is trouble to hand." So Thorstein
showed the horses to the king, saying that Odd
had sent him them for a gift.
The king answered : " Of no gifts from Odd
was I worthy ; and indeed to thee he has sent the
horses, not to me ; and have them thou shalt."
And he bade slay Thorstein for the guile where-
with he had dealt with the king. But all were loth
thereto, for Thorstein was the best befriended of
men. But Thorstein gat him away from the court,
and was never after in the king's friendship.
BUT bade Thorarin take heed lest the hair that
lay on his tongue should twine around his head."
This prophetically obscure passage is, no doubt,
to be explained on the following grounds. There is an
adj. " lo=Smaeltr," from " loftinn," hairy, and " maela," to
speak, thick of speech, talking thick, talking through
the roof of the palate. There is also the saying, " ein-
hverjum vefst tunga um hofu'S," the tongue twines itself
round one's head, i.e. t brings him into such a trouble as
may cost him his head. Thus, when the rough and ready
missionary Thangbrand was on his way to the Althing,
Thorvald the Wily gathered a band against him, and
with a rhyme, in which he lampooned Thangbrand, called
on the poet Wolf Uggison to join him ; but the poet re-
fused and sent him this message : " Gaeti hann, at honum
vefizt eigi tungan um hofut," let him take heed lest his
tongue cost him his head" (Njala, ch. 102). The
warning was not heeded, and Thangbrand and his com-
panion Gudleif slew Thorvald. Accordingly, the mean-
ing of Guest's words above should be : Let Thorarin
beware lest his thick-speaking, wagging tongue may
cost him his head.
Page xxxii. " Thorvald . . . took part in the burning
of Thorkel, the son of Blundketil." On this and other
disagreements between Islendingab6k and Hen Thorir's
saga, as, in fact, on the relation of Hen Thorir's saga in
general to other historical records of Iceland, Dr. K.
Maurer has written a searching and exhaustive criticism
in Abhandlungen der bayerischen Akademie der Wissen-
schaften, Philos.-philol. Classe, Bd. XIL, 2, 1870, pp. 159-
180 The Saga Library.
Page 2,1.15. Moonberg, Mdnaberg, the dwelling of the
alleged Liot Thiodrekson, would seem to have been
situated somewhere in Icefirth, further out or down the
firth than Laugab61 (Bathstead, p. 38). Only two such
local names can be pointed to, one on the island of Vigr,
which lies some miles westward, or down the firth, from
Laugab61, the other on the so-called Snowfell-strand just
opposite to the island of Eiderisle, and that too is lying
further west, or down the firth, than Laugab61. In the
isle of Vigr this homestead of the saga cannot be sought,
because the saga gives us clearly to understand that it was
on the mainland itself. But there would be nothing in
the way of fixing its locality opposite to Eiderisle, on
the northern side of Icefirth. Now in his JarSab6k, estate
valuation register, made in the course of 1702-1714, Arni
Magnusson states that Mdnaberg is the name of the
place where now the out-dairy from Eiderisle is situate.
Dr. Kalund has not been able to trace any recollection
of the name among the present inhabitants of Snowfell-
strand. But in 1805, according Johnsen's JarSatal, p. 202,
the name was still known in this neighbourhood. If this
name can be supposed to represent the old homestead,
then Mdnaberg would have stood between Myri (DyrSil-
myrr) and Una'Ssdalr (see preface and map), and Howard
dwelling west of the former house would have been in a
manner sheltered against attacks from Moonberg Liot.
There is nothing seriously in the way of supposing that
a homestead called Moonberg might have stood here in
the days of Howard the Halt.
Page 2, 1. 21. " He " (Thorkel of Eiderisle) " was the
Lawman of those of Icefirth." Only here and in the
saga of the Svarfadardale men is mention made of this
functionary during the period of the commonweal. In both
cases the logma'Sr is invested with judicial authority. But
in the earlier laws the term only means a lawyer, an expert
at law. First after the union with Norway, A.D. 1262-
64, the logma^r comes in as a magistrate appointed by
the king. It seems, perhaps, strange that in independent
Iceland there should have been no local magistrates to
settle contested points of law and right, as there were
both in Norway and Sweden. But the matter is to
a great extent explained by the fact that any man, who
was, or felt himself to be, either wronged or feebly de-
fended by the Gofti whose liegeman, jtingma'Sr, he was,
could transfer his allegiance to any other GoSi he pleased.
The saga leaves it unexplained why Howard did not do
so, he being Thorbiorn's " thingman " (ch. vii. p. 24), until
he had wrought his deed of revenge, when he threw him-
self under the protection of Eyolf the Gray. But the
locality itself, where travelling is almost impossible but
by sea, together with Thorbiorn's great power, were
obvious obstacles in the way of such an arrangement.
As for the term lawman logma'Sr being used here, it
probably means only that the author of the saga, forget-
ful or ignorant of the past, foisted an institution of the
thirteenth century upon the constitution of the eleventh.
It must here be noted that all the law we have been
dealing with is customary, as opposed to political law ; it
has no definite executive at its back; the aggrieved
person and his kindred or chieftain are left to carry out
its decisions if they can. Again, the "judges" are not,
like the judges of political society, representatives of the
executive power of the State, but are, in fact, our jury-
men. We may say, in short, that the chief difference
between the Customary and Political law is, that in the
former, judgment withdraws protection from the con-
demned ; in the latter, execution follows judgment in-
Page 3, 1. 25. Bear's-warmth, bjarn-ylr, refers to the
exceeding warmth which people supposed was given to
the blood of a bear. In old records we are not aware
that any description of this quality of bears exists. But
in the east of Iceland the legend is current still, that so
great is the warmth of this animal that, walking over
the snow in whatever frosty weather, it leaves a pool of
water in every step. This is supposed to be the bear's-
1 82 The Saga Library.
warmth proper, and it can be transmitted to human
beings who are born on a bear's fell. (Islenzkar
J?j6sogur, vol. i. p. 608.)
Page 4, 1. 4. Sheep-walks, afr^ttir, mountain pastures
owned in common mostly by so and so many communes,
more rarely by private people. Unto these the dry sheep
were driven in spring from the home-pastures, and
through these commons they roamed unlocked after till
the end of September, when the communes sent out their
sheep-gatherers to clear the walks. The sheep were
driven down to one common fold, where they were sorted
by the marks cut on their ears, and afterwards driven in
separate droves to their respective owners. Meantime,
there are no upland sheep-walks to clear in the locality
to which the saga refers.
Page 4, 1. 6. Winter-nights, vetrnaetr. The summer
began on a Thursday, and consequently closed on a
Wednesday. But the winter began on the Saturday
following. The intervening Thursday and Friday were
the winter-nights proper. The first day of summer was
the Thursday that fell on April 9-15, and the last was
the Wednesday that fell on October 7-13. The winter-
nights fell respectively on October 8-9 to October 14-15 ;
Saturday, the first day of winter, fell on October 10-16,
but in domestic computation the I4th of October was
regarded as the first day of winter, as the I4th of April
was that of summer.
Page 1 3, 1. 1 1. " Thorbiorn rode to the Thing a-wooing,
and craved the sister of Guest Oddleifson." This is a
mistake, as the fragment of Howard's saga which we
have given in the preface, xiii-xv, out of the Landna-
mab6k shows. Thorbiorn had for wife Halldis, the sister
of Liot, who dwelt at Ingialdsand. Both Liot and
Guest went by the popular surname, " hinn spaki," which
properly means " the tranquil," but is always applied to
those who had the gift of prophecy, an imperturbable
insight into the deep mysteries of fate. The part which
the saga makes Guest " hinn spaki " play in Thorbiorn's
affairs is evidently transferred to him from his less-known
surname namesake, Liot " hinn spaki."
Page 1 6, 1. 26. " Now Thordis, Thorbiorn's sister, went
out that morning of the fight, and heard the noise thereof,
but might not see aught." Here is one more instance of
the author's ignorance of local details. First Olaf is made
to go " lit meS firSinum," out or down along the firth,
instead of "inn meft firSinum," up along the firth, since
Howardstead was west of Loonsere, and consequently
this place was " inn meS firSi," up along the firth in the
direction from Howardstead. Secondly, Thorbiorn landed
just below Loonsere, and there the fight befell, but
Thordis' home, Knoll, was more than two miles distant,
up along the western side of Kaldal6n (see map), so she
could neither hear nor see aught of the fight. About the
locality of Olaf's fight Dr. Kalund says : " From the
homestead the homefield stretches over a brent that leans
down towards the 'ere' (above which Loonsere stands) and
covers the uppermost part of the ere. Immediately down
below the brent, in the midst of the green level field, is
to be seen a cairn, heaped up of foreshore stones of the
size of a man's fist, which presents a striking contrast to
its surroundings. It is called ' Olaf's ruin,' Olafs rust,
and is accounted of as Olaf's tomb, ' leiSi.' " Beskr. af
Island, i. 605.
Page 27, 1. 17. In Biargey's ordering Thorhall to "row
towards the cutter's beam," which evidently meant that
he was to row round Thorbiorn's cutter, beginning the
circle from the nearer beam, so as to cross her path, and
in Thorbiorn's wrath for her doing this, there must lie
hidden an allusion to a popular superstition. The prob-
ability is that a person with a good fetch (fylgja, ham-
ingja) crossing the sea-way of him whose fetch was an
evil one, ill-luck, was believed thereby to have confounded
the evil fetch, and hastened on to ruin the person whom
it " followed."
Pages 28-29. Of the brothers of Biargey, Valbrand,
Thorbrand, and Asbrand, and of their respective home-
184 The Saga Library.
steads, nothing is otherwise known. This journey of
Biargey's bears on the face of itself the evidence of being
a legendary adornment.
Page 42. All that is here attributed to Steinthor of
Ere is, no doubt, as we have shown in the preface, p. xv,
due to Eyolf the Gray of Otterdale, who, according to
Landnama, was the chief that safeguarded Howard after
Pages 45-46. The Thorbiorn of Ere whose sons are
called here Grim and Thorstein, is in the Landnamab6k
called Grim Kogr (Bantling?), living at Brent, Brekka,
and his sons are there called Sigurd and Thorkel. Here
the confusion must all be on the side of Howard's saga.
Page 51. "Now there was a man named Atli, who
dwelt at Otterdale, and was wedded to a sister of Stein-
thor of Ere, Thordis to wit." All that here is told of
Atli the Little is no doubt pure romance. Among the
children of Thorlak of Ere, the father of Steinthor, the
very saga of the family, the Eyrbyggja saga, knows no
daughter of the name of Thordis. But it knows Thordis,
Sur's daughter, sister of Gi'sli Siirson, the great outlaw,
whom Eyolf the Gray of Otterdale overcame at last,
for which deed Thordis had nearly succeeded in kill-
ing Eyolf. It would seem as if the confusion of the
Howard saga had gone so far as to join these two in
marriage after changing Eyolf the Gray into Atli the
The local confusion here is no less complete : " As goes
the tale, the house at Otterdale was far from the highway
and stood on the other side of the firth over against Ere."
The house of Otterdale stood, as it still stands, far up the
firth called Arnar-firth, which is the third considerable
bay, counting from the south-westernmost point of the
north-western peninsula, Latrabiarg or Biargtangar, that
cuts into the land. To get by sea to it from Ere, situate
on the southern shore of Broadfirth, would mean a sail
not far short of a hundred miles, and yet our saga tells
us that Atli got up early the same morning that Stein-
thor left Ere in the cutter taken from Thorbiorn, and then
found the boat so near to the landing-place beneath Otter-
dale, that he recognized Steinthor on board. In fact the
saga has removed Ere some fifty miles, as the crow flies,
to the north, and planted it on the eastern side of Arnar-
firth, opposite the house of Otterdale.
Page 67, 1. 14. " In those days Earl Hakon ruled over
Norway." We have shown, see preface, p. xxii, that the
death of Olaf Howardson must have taken place, if not
actually in the summer of A.D. 1001, at least a very short
time before or after. Now after Olaf's death Howard
was a bedridden man from grief for three years (cf. pages
1 8, 20, 27) ; then a fourth year passed when Howard's
great affairs were settled at the Thing, in the fall of which
probably he sold his house in accordance with the award
given out by Guest Oddleifson (p. 64), that he should
change his dwelling, " and not abide in this quarter of the
land." Next he moves to Oxdale and abode there
" certain winters " (p. 67), say two or three, and then he
hears that Earl Hakon was dead, " and Olaf Tryggvison
come to the land and gotten to be sole king of Norway"
(p. 68). This news then ought at the earliest to have
come to Howard about A.D. 1008, that is, thirteen years
after the death of Hakon Sigurdson (ob. 995), and eight
years after the death of Olaf Tryggvison (ob. 1000). It
is much more likely that the Earl Hakon here meant was
Hakon Eirikson, whom Olaf Haraldson (St. Olaf) de-
posed 1014, he himself a zealous propagator of Chris-
tianity, becoming sole king of Norway, 1015.
Page 76, 1. 1 8. Skridinsenni is an exposed bold stretch
of coast, facing the east, and running from Bitra or Bitru-
firth north to the ness that marks the entrance to Kolla-
firth, situate in the southernmost part of the district of
the Strands, in wider sense, within the present bailiwick of
Strandasysla. The Glum here mentioned was the grand-
son of Kjallak, who, according to the Eyrbyggja saga
(ed. 1864, ch. 57), lived "at Kjallaksa (-river) of (on)
Skrifcinsenni." By our saga Glum had come, in one way
1 86 The Saga Library.
or another, into the family property at Skridinsenni,
though his father Ospak lived' at Ere in Bitra. Glum,
according to Eyrbyggja, was a " mere youth a few years
after Snorri Go'Si made Saelingsdalstongue his home,"
which he did A.D. 1008 a statement, by the way, which
well agrees with the chronology of the Banded Men's saga,
for, in ordinary circumstances, a son of his would have
come to man's estate about 1050. It is not reasonable to
suppose that Glum would have changed the name of his
grandfather's abode on coming into the property. While
therefore the property was still in the family, as it un-
doubtedly was at the time, or at least shortly before the
time, that the events of the saga happened, Skridinsenni
was a topographical, not a domiciliary term. By the time
the saga was written down, perhaps more than two cen-
turies afterwards, the interchange of the names of Kjal-
laksa and Skridinsenni might have taken place. At any
rate, the name of the old house of Kjallaksa has for a
long time been SkrrSins or Skri'Snis or SkrftSnes-enni.
Pages 79-80. " Uspak rides to the Thing," etc. " So
weareth summer : Uspak rideth to the Leet." The Leet
was an assembly called together from the three Go'SorS
in every Thing ; it was held at the same place as the
varbing or spring-mote, and was hallowed and ruled, or
presided over by one of the three Go'Sar of the Thing
(see below). It was to be held not sooner than fourteen
days after the meeting of the Althing closed, that is,
from July 16-22. And it might not be held later than
on the Sunday following that Saturday on which there
still were left eight weeks of summer, that is, on the
Sunday which O. S. fell on August 16-22. A Leet might
not be shorter than " daytimes-Leet," nor longer than
two-days Leet. " It should be hallowed even as Things
(lawful assemblies) were hallowed, and withal the right
of a man increaseth at an hallowed Leet, even as it doth
at a Thing. There at the Leet should all new matters in
law be given out, likewise the Calendar and the ob-
servance of Ember-days, and the beginning of Lent, so
also if there was leap-year, or if to summer is added, 1
also if men have to ride to the Althing before ten weeks
of summer are passed. This shall be given out by that
Go^i to whom it is due to hallow the Leet, unless they
(the three of them) have otherwise divided it (the Leet
business) between them." Grag. I. a. 111-112.
Page 86, 1. I (cf. p. 95). Days of summoning, stefnu-
dagar, the days in spring on which summons were taken
out for the varying, and for the Althing in such cases as
were not brought into court at the varying. These days
are not otherwise defined than as being in spring. But
as the rule was that summons for the Spring-thing should
run fourteen days, and those for the Althing four or three
weeks, the " stefnudagar " for the former, which, at its
earliest, could not begin till May 7th, must have fallen
on and after April 23rd, for the latter, which began on
June 18-24, they must have fallen on May 2ist and
afterwards. Cf. Gragas I. a. 96 : " Let summons for
the varying not be taken out closer to it than that there
be two weeks until that varying (meet) unto which the
case is summoned." Ib. I. a. 126 : " It is right to sum-
mon all cases which do not involve levy of jurors from
home, to the Althing all the time until the passing of
the fifth day of the week, when seven weeks of the
summer have gone by," i.e., until the 28th of May.
Id. I. a. 179 : " All these cases" (relating to manslaughter,
murder, etc., which involved levy from home of jurors)
" the plaintiff having had news thereof within four weeks
of summer having past, or before, he shall have sum-
moned, at the latest, on the day following that Wed-
nesday, when six weeks of summer are past," i.e. t on
May 2 1 st.
Page 94, line 20, read : Gellir Thorkelson.
Page 125, line 2, read : the son of Ulvar the son of
1 This refers to the characteristic contrivance of the Icelandic
calendar called Sumarauki, summer addition, invented by Thorstein
Surt, A.D. 960, described in Islendingabok, ch. iv.
1 88 The Saga Library.
Page 125, line 21, read: Geir the Wealthy from
Page 126, 1. 9. We have rendered Raufta Biorn by
Red Biorn in order to retain the shortness of the original.
But the real rendering would be Red-iron-ore Biorn.
" RauEa " is the gen. sing, of " raufti," red iron ore,
haematite, for the smelting of which Skallagrim was
especially noted (cf. Egil's saga, ch. xxx.). Now Red
Biorn was a settler within Skallagrim's own claim, for he
bought land of Skallagrim between Gorgeriver and
Steamriver (Gljufrdr ok Gufar), so he probably took up
from Skallagrim the craft of smelting haematite on his
land, and thereby got his nickname " Of the red ore."
Page 126, line n, read : Gunnwald, father to Thorkel
Page 128, 1. 16. "And I know that ye shall not away
out of the haven before the spring-tide," says Odd-a-
Tongue to the Norwegian shipmaster, when he refuses to
abide by Odd's fixing of the prices at which only the
wares on board might be sold. Blundketil, on knowing
who the chapmen were, sent his son, Herstein, "down to
the Haven " to bid the master to his house. In the
Landnamabokweread (pp. 53-54): "Haven-Worm settled
lands about Melahverfi out to Charwater and Salmon-
water, and up as far as Duck-Creek-water, and abode in
Haven" (see the map). In describing Haven, Hofn,
from personal inspection, Dr. Kalund says : " A little to
the south from the homestead is formed the small bight,
called Belgsholts-Creek. This, it is evident, has given
the homestead its name (Haven). The bight can be
entered only by high water, all the parts outside being
practically laid dry at ebb. Inside the narrow entrance,
through which a strong current runs, up towards the cliffs
of the strand a pool is formed, a little bend or bow with
calm water of some depth, which must have offered a
particularly suitable anchorage for small vessels. This
inlet, which, no doubt, was pretty frequently used as
harbour in ancient times, is especially bespoken in the
saga of Hen Thorir." This corroborates the accuracy of
the saga all but completely. The Norway ship has evi-
dently gone to anchor on a spring-tide, and has been too
deep-going to get away by neap-tide.
Pages 130-131. The months mentioned here, Thorri,
Goi, and One-month " Einmanu'Sr " are the last three
of the winter season. The historical year began at this
time in Iceland, as practically it did throughout western
Christendom, on Christmas day with, in Iceland, its
heathen vigil, as it were, Yule eve. But there is every
probability that, from the time the office of the speaker-
at-law was created, there co-existed with the historical
the legal year, that began on the Icelandic midsummer's
Sunday, which fell on July 22nd to 28th. It stands to
reason, namely, that the speaker, having at the close of
each Althing session to deliver to the Go'Sar the calendar
of the ensuing year, in order that they again might pub-
lish the same to their thingmen at the Leets in the course
of July and August, should have chosen a convenient
point of time to start from. The above date was ob-
viously convenient, "Midsummer" being a date term
familiar to every peasant in the country. Hence the
old order of the months in the vulgar calendar of Ice-
I. Heyannir (Haytoil) .... July August.
II. KornskurSarmanuftr, or Tvi-
manuSr (Corn shearing or
Twainmonth) Aug. September.
III. HaustmanuSr (Harvest-
month) Sept. October.
IV. Gormanu'Sr (Slaughter-
month) Oct. November.
V. Frermanu'Sr (Frost-month) . Nov. December.
VI. Hrutmanu'Sr or Morsugur
(Ram-month or Fat-sucker) Dec. January.
VII. Thorri Jan. February.
VIII. Goi Feb. March.
190 The Saga Library.
IX. EinmanuSr (One [ = last
Winter-] month) .... March April.
X. GaukmdnuSr (Cuckoo) or
SaStfiS (Seedtide) or Harpa
(Harp = Songbirds'-
month?) April May.
XI. EggtftS(Eggtide)orStekkti'3 l May June.
XII. Solmanu'Sr or SelmanuSr
(Sun or Dairy-month) . . June July.
Only Thorri, Goi, Einmanu'Sr, and TvimanuSr are
mentioned in the sagas. All the months are enumerated
in Snorra Edda's Skaldskaparmal (S. E., i. 510512),
only Snorri starts with " Haustmanu^r," which began
about the autumnal equinox, Sept. 20-26 ; but that is not
to be taken to mean that he regarded " Haustmanu^r "
as the first month of the year. In collecting for the use
of poets the various terms for divisions of time, he comes
to the terms of the seasons, and starts from the autumnal
equinox ; so, in order to keep to the logical nexus of his
argument, he begins his enumeration of the months from
the same time mark. But we may also mention that
the oldest computistic treatise in Icelandic literature
(Cod. Reg., 1812, 4to., Royal Lib. Copenh.) starts its
enumeration of the months with September, on the
ground that it is the first month in the cycle of the
Epacts, the term meant being September 23. Did Snorri
Sturluson actually handle this precious volume, which,
as it now exists, was written at least forty years before
his death, and base on it his list of the months ?
Page 152, 1. 15 foil. "So when the boards were set,
Herstein the bridegroom leapt up and over the board to
where was a certain stone ; then he set one foot upon the
stone and spake: 'This oath I swear hereby, that be-
1 " Stekkr," a fold for young lambs. The period from the time
the ewes lamb (May) till the time of the so-called "frafasrur," when
the lambs are weaned from the dams (end of June), is popularly
called " stekktfts." During that time the lambs are kept at night
inside a fold under roof.
fore the Althing is over this summer I shall have Arn-
grim the priest made fully guilty, or gained self-doom
else,' " etc.
This is one of the many instances we meet with in the
Icelandic sagas of solemn vows, usually of a desperate
character, being made on festive occasions. Already in
the ancient lay of Helgi Hiorvardson (Older Edda) the
custom is mentioned : " King Hiorvard had made a vow
to this end that he should marry the goodliest woman he
should come to know of." In Ynglinga saga (ch. 40), a
very interesting description is given of the ceremony
observed when vows were taken in style, as it were.
Ingjald the Evil-minded, the Over-king at Upsala, on
succeeding his father, made a great " arvel," feast, to
which he invited six neighbouring kinglets, for whom he
had six high seats fitted up in a new banqueting hall.
" It was a wont of those days, when an arvel was to be
made after kings or earls, that he who made the feast
and was to be ' lead to heritage' should sit on the ledge
(footstool) before the high seat all the time until the
bringing in of that bumper which was called ' Bragi's
Bumper.' Then he must rise up against Bragi's
Bumper, and make a vow and quaff the bumper after-
wards. Thereupon he should be led to the high seat
that was his father's ; and then he had come into all the
heritage the father had left. Now in this same wise this
was done here. And when Bragi's Bumper came in,
King Ingjald rose and took in hand a mighty horn of a
wild ox, and he made the vow that he should widen out
his kingdom by half towards every side or else die.
Whereupon he quaffed off the horn. And when men
were drunk in the evening, King Ingjald spake to Folk-
vid and Hulvid, the sons of Svipdag, and bade them be-
weapon themselves and their men even as had been
settled earlier in the evening. So they went out to the
new hall and brought fire up to it, and therewith it began
to burn. And therewithin there burned six kings with
all their folk, but those who sought to get out were
192 The Saga Library.
swiftly cut down. Thereupon King Ingiald made him-
self master of all the lands these kings had owned, and
gathered tribute from them."
A wiser vow, made for a nobler end, was that of Her-
stein, the son of Earl Atli the Slender of Gaular in
Norway, as recorded in the F16amanna saga (Fornsogur,
Leipzig, 1860, p. 121). Ingolf, son of Orn, the first
settler in Iceland, together with his foster-brother Leif
(Hiorleif), invited the sons of the earl, Hastein and Her-
stein, to a banquet, at which Herstein cast fond glances
at Helga, the sister of Ingolf, "the goodliest and the
best-mannered of women," and made a vow that her
he would have for wife or no woman else. " Said he, he had
been the first to begin this play, ' and now, Ingolf, it is
thy turn,' quoth he. Answered Ingolf: 'Let Herstein
now have his say first, for he is the wisest of us, and the
first in all matters whatsoever.' Then Hastein said :
' This vow I make that, though I be beholden to men, I
shall not twist a right judgment aside if the same be en-
trusted to me on faith.' Said Herstein : ' This vow of
thine is not at all by so much the more discreet that thou
art counted wiser than we are, or what dost thou mean
to do, if thou hast to give out an award concerning
friends or foes ? ' Hastein answered : ' Thereto I
mean to see myself.' " As it happened, his next award
was to deprive the foster-brothers of their lands and
goods, and to exile them from their country of Firdir,
an award which was the immediate cause of Iceland
The blind belief in the sanctity and inviolability of
these vows, once made, no matter how unwisely, is well
illustrated by the story of the vow of Hrafnkel Frey's
priest (Hrafnkelssaga, pp. 5 and 8) : " Hrafnkel owned a
choice thing which he prized above whatever else ; it was
a horse which he called Frey-Faxe. Half of that horse
he gave to his friend Frey. For this horse he had
so great a love that he made a vow to put to death any-
one who durst ride it without his leave. . . In the
morning he has a horse fetched and saddled, and rode
up to the mountain dairy. In blue raiment he rode,
axe in hand, but with no more of weapons. Then Einar
(his shepherd) had just driven the ewes into the fold and
lay on the wall thereof counting his flock while the
women were a-milking. They (his servants) greeted him,
and he asked how they were getting on. ' It has gone
awkwardly with me,' said Einar, ' I have missed thirty
ewes for a week, but have now found them at last.'
Hrafnkel said he had no fault to find on that score.
' But hast thou not done something worse ? Didst thou
not have a ride on Faxe the other day ? ' Einar said he
might not gainsay that utterly. ' Why didst thou ride
on this horse which was forbidden thee, seeing thou
hadst plenty of other horses to choose from, which thou
wast free to use ? Now I should have forgiven thee this
one case, had I not made such a solemn vow about it
already, because, moreover, thou hast owned to it in a
manly wise.' But whereas he believed that such men
who should break their own vows never would come to
aught good, he leapt off his horse and upon Einar and
dealt him a death-wound then and there."
Numerous other instances might be added, notably
the famous vows of the Jomsvikings, which brought
them to their ruin in the reputed battle of Hiorungavog
against Earl Hakon of Norway, about A.D. 994 (Joms-
vikinga saga) ; King Harold Hairfair's vow (Heims-
kringla) ; Hroald Haraldson's, the bow-breaker's (Hord
Grimkelson's saga), Emperor Otto the First's (Joms-
vikinga saga), etc.
Page 161, 1. 25. " My handmaidens." His arrows, to
wit. For the " sleep-thorn," here used for the long sleep
of death, see Volsunga saga, chap. xx.
ALF-A-D ALES, Alfr i D61-
AN, Ann, a homeman of As-
brand of Asbrandstead, and
fosterer of his son, Hallgrim,
joins Howard's band of re-
venge, 3 2 ; slain by Brand
the Strong, 36; atoned at
the Althing, 64.
ART the Learned, author of
Islendingabok and Land-
nama, xii, xiii, xxii.
ARNDIS, Arndis, daughter of
Hedin, wife to Hedin, the
father of Halla, xviii.
ARNGRIM, Arngrimr,the Priest,
son of Helgi, dwelt at North-
tongue, 125 ; gives his son
Helgi in fostering to Hen
Thorir, 127; refuses to listen
to Hen Thorir's slandering
of Blundketil, 135-137 ;
warns Thorwald, son of
Odd-a-Tongue, not to take
up Hen Thorir's case against
Blundketil, 1 3 8- 1 40 ; yet
joins in summoning Blund-
ketil and in burning him in
his house, 140, 142, 143 ;
gathers forces to defeat
Thord Gellir's blood-suit
after Blundketil, 153; is
made a full outlaw at the
Althing, and goes abroad an
ASBRAND, Asbrandr, Biargey's
ASDIS, sister to Liot the Sage,
wife of Ospak Osvifson, xiii,
ASMUND, Asmundr, the Long-
hoary, father of Thordis, the
wife of Glum of Skridins-
ATLI "the Little," "the
Miser" of Otterdale, his
miserly ways and abuse of
Steinthor of Ere, his brother-
in-law, 5 1-55 ; his bounteous
ways and praises of Stein-
thor, 55 ; shelters Howard
and his followers, while
Steinthor goes to the Al-
thing, 5 7-65 ; his dream,
warning of advancing foes,
59, 60 ; his fight with the
Dyrafirthers, 60-63 > honours
paid to him at Howard's
triumphal banquet, 66.
BANDED MEN, The, their plot
to ruin Odd of Mel, 94 ;
The Saga Library.
are rated all round by old
Ufeig of Reeks, 110-112;
their plot foiled, and their
angry bandying of words
with Egil Skulison, 113-117.
BERGTHOR, Bergforr, of Bod-
varsknolls, the judge who
summed up the case for
Uspak Glumson's outlawry,
BERSI, son of Halldor, the son
of Gunnbiorn,father toThor-
mod Coalbrowscald, xvi.
BIALFI, a half-witted brother
to Mar Hildison of Swala-
stead, wounds Uspak mor-
tally, 1 20, 121.
BIARGEY, daughter of Val-
brand, xvi-xvii ; wife of Ho-
ward the Halt, 2 ; her brave
behaviour in her grief for
the loss of Olaf, 18-30;
urges Howard to claim
atonem ent of Thorbiorn, 1 9 ;
again to seek atonement at
the Althing, 20, 21 ; her
meeting with Thorbiorn on
the sea, 27 ; rouses Howard
to the revenge of Olaf for
the last time, 30, 31 ; enter-
tains with Howard at a feast
Guest Oddleifson, Steinthor
of Ere, and Atli of Otter-
dale, 66, 67 ; goes with Ho-
ward abroad, is christened,
and dies that same winter,
BLUNDKETIL, Blundketill, son
of Geir the Wealthy, dwelt
atOrnolfsdale,i25, 126 ; the
wealthiest and best beloved
of men, 126; bids to his
home Erne, the Norwegian
shipmaster, in spite of Odd-
a-Tongue, 129, 130; craves,
when hay harvest fails, his
rents in hay, and orders his
tenants to cut down their
live stock accordingly, 130;
his kind-heartedness as a
landlord, 131,132; goes with
his tenants to Hen Thorir
to bargain for hay, 132-135 ;
is burnt in his own house by
son, in company with Hen
Thorir and Arngrim the
Go'Si, xxxi, 142, 143 ;Thord
Gellir's account of him, 149,
150 ; award for his burning
given out at the Althing,
BRAND, Brandr, the Strong,
of the household of Thor-
biorn Thiodrekson, 2 ; gets
Olaf Howardson to rid him
of the ghost of Thormod of
Bank, 10, n ; rouses Thor-
biorn's jealousy of Olaf by
praising him for the deed,
n, 12 ; prevents Thorbiorn
slaying Thorhall and maim-
ing Biargey, 28 ; slain by
Hallgrim Asbrandson, 35,
36 ; atoned at the Althing,
BURISLAV, King of Gardar
DAGSTYGG (Dayshy), King of
the Giants, xviii.
DYRI of Dyrafirth, " next of
account to Thorarin the
Priest," a fictitious character,
plans with Thorarin the
priest of Dyrafirth an armed
onset on Atli of Otterdale,
and rides with Thorarin to
the Althing, 58 ; agrees to
Guest Oddleifson's settling
of peace between the kin of
Thorbiorn and Howard, 63,
64 ; heavily censured by
Guest for his double-deal-
EGIL, Egill, the son of Skuli,
one of the Banded Men (he
was the great-grandson of
Egil Skallagrimson), 94, 96 ;
how he was bribed out of
the plot of the Banded Men
by Ufeig, " theold carle," 97-
103; undertakes to be joint-
awarder with Gellir Thor-
kelson in Odd's bribery
case, 113; and to defend
the same before the Banded
Men, 1 1 3- 1 1 7 ; goes to Odd's
bridal, 1 1 8.
EGIL, son of Valastein, xiv.
EINAR Fly, Einarr Fluga, the
king's bailiff over Finmark,
EINAR, Einarr, son of Jarn-
ELIN (Helen), daughter of
Burislav, King of Gardar
BREMEN, the descendants of
Stein thor of Ere, 104.
ERIC, Eirikr, King of Upsala,
ERNE, Orn, a Norwegian ship,
master, 127; refuses to abide
by Odd-a-Tongue's apprais-
ing of his wares, 1 28 ; goes
in his despite to Blundketil's
house, 129, 130; hearing of
Hen Thorir having insult-
ingly summoned Blundketil,
he shoots an arrow after the
summoning band and kills
Helgi, Arngrim Gobi's son,
on the spot, 141-143; is
burnt in Blundketil's house,
EYOLF, Eyjolfr (or Eyjiilfr),
the Gray of Otterdale,
shelters in his old age
Howard the Halt after the
slaughter of Thorbiorn
Thiodrekson, xv, xxii.
EYIULF, son of Valbrand, one
of Howard's band of re-
venge, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40,
61, 62; banished the land
during the lifetime of Tho-
rarin, the priest of Dyra-
EYVIND, Eyvindr, the East-
man, father to Snaebiorn and
Helgi the Lean, xvii.
EYVIND Knee, a settler in
Icefirth (see map), great-
grandfather to Biargey, the
wife of Howard the Halt,
GEIR the Wealthy, Geirr
hinn auSgi, son of Ketil
GEIRDIS, mother of Howard,
41, in the verse.
The Saga Library.
GELLIR, not Thordson, but
Thorkelson of Holyfell, the
grandfather of Ari the
Learned, one of the Banded
Men, 94 . ; is bribed by
old Ufeig out of the plot of
the Banded Men, 103-108;
undertakes to be a joint-
judge with Egil Skulison in
the bribery case of Odd,
and to give out the award,
113 ; gives one of his
daughters in marriage to
Odd, and attends the bridal,
118; died at Roskilde in
Denmark, 1073, xxvii.
GLUM, GMmr, son of Uspak
Kjallakson, of Skridinsenni,
GORM, Gormr, a Swedish duke,
GRETTIR the Strong, 76.
GRIM, Grimr, son of Thor-
biorn of Ere (probably the
same as the Landnama,
p. 145, calls Sigurd, son of
Grim Kogr), slays Liot of
Redsand, and joins Ho-
ward's band at Steinthor of
Ere's, 46-49, 61, 62 ; ba-
nished the land for the life-
time of Thorarin the priest
of Dyrafirth, 64.
GRIM KOGR, father of Sigurd
and Thorkel, who slew Liot
the Sage, xiii-xv.
GRIMOLF, Grim61fr, son of
Olaf Evenpate, xvii.
GRIOTGARTH, Grjotgarfcr, Earl
of Hladir in Norway, uncle
to Earl Hakon, xiii.
GROA, daughter of Herfinn an d
Halla, wife of Hroar and
mother of Sle"ttu-Biorn, xviii.
GUEST Oddleifson, Gestr
Oddleifsson, of Mead on
Bardstrand, the northern
shore of Broadfirth (see note
to p. 1 3), visits Liot the Sage,
xiv ; gives his sister in mar-
riage to Thorbiorn Thio-
drekson, 1 3 ; forces Thor-
biorn to make atonement in
threefold weregild for Olaf
Howardson, 24-26 ; settles
peace for Howard at the
GUNNAR, Gunnarr, son of
Hlifar, married to Helga,
the sister of Thord Gellir,
1 46 ; forced by Thorkel
Welt to promise his daughter
Thurid, the foster-daughter
of Thord Gellir, in marriage
to Herstein, the son of
Blundketil, 146-148; and
then first knows of Blund-
ketil's burning, and that
Herstein is a homeless
orphan, 148, 149 ; beguiles
Thord Gellir to betroth in
his own name Thurid to
Herstein, before telling him
anything of the burning of
Blundketil, 149-15 1 ; his vow
at the bridal of Herstein, his
son-in-law, 152; flits his
house to Ornolfsdale, 155 ;
refuses Thorod, Odd-a-
Tongue's son, his daughter,
while at enmity with the
latter, 159, 160; is set upon
by Odd-a-Tongue, but de-
fended by Thorod, who
makes peace between them,
GUNNAR, son of Valbrand,
and brother to Biargey,
GUNNBIORN, Gunnbjorn, son
of Wolf the Crow, discoverer
of Gunnbiorn Skerries, xvi.
GUNNLAUG, mother of Ufeig
of Reeks, 73.
GUNNSTEIN, Gunnsteinn, son
of Gunnbiorn, xvi.
GUNNWALD, Gunnvaldr, son
of Red Biorn, brother to
Thorkel Welt, 126.
HAKON, Earl of Norway, A.D.
976-99S. 6 7-
HALL, Hallr, son of Styrmir of
HALLA, mother to Thorgils,
kinsman of Guest Oddleif-
HALLA, daughter of Hedin,
wife to Herfinn, the son of
HALLDIS, sister to Liot the
Sage, married to Thorbiorn
HALLDOR, Halld6rr, son of
HALLGRIM, Hallgrimr, son of
Asbrand, one of Howard's
band of revenge, 29, 32, 33,
3 8 > 39. 4i, 42, 5 6 > 6l > 6z i
banished the land for the
lifetime of Thorarin the
priest of Dyrafirth, 64.
HALLGRIM, son of Valbrand,
and brother to Biargey,
HAROLD, Haraldr, " HarS-
rajS'i" (cruel-minded), son
of Sigurd, King of Norway,
1046-1066, xxvi, in; hood-
winked by Odd Ufeigson,
HARDREF, HarSrefr, father to
Thorgrim, the father to Liot
the Sage, xiii.
HAREK, Harekr, a kinsman of
Thorstein Odd Ufeigson's
friend, takes stallions to
Norway as a gift for Thor-
stein, 174, 175.
HEDIN, He'Sinn, father to
Arndis, the wife of Hedin,
the father of Halla, the wife
of Herfinn, xviii.
HEDIN, father to Halla, the
wife of Herfinn, xviii.
HELGA, sister of Thord Gellir,
wife of Gunnar, son of
HELGA, daughter of Thorgeir
of Withymere, wife of
Thorkel, son of Gunnwald,
HELGI, son of Arngrim, the
priest of Northtongue, 125;
is fostered by Hen Thorir,
127 ; refutes openly all
Hen Thorir's slandering of
Blundketil, 136, 137; goes
with Hen Thorir to the sum-
moning of Blundketil, 140 ;
is slain by an arrow- shot of
Master Erne's, 141, 142.
HELGI, son of Hogni, father to
The Saga Library.
Arngrim, the priest of
HELGI, son of Red Biorn, and
brother to Thorkel Welt,
dwelt at Hwamm in North-
waterdale, 126 ; with his
brother, Thorkel Welt, he
joins Thord Gellir in the
suit for the burning of
HELGI the Lean, the settler of
the whole of Eyiafirth, xvii,
xx, xliv, xlv.
HEN THORIR, Haensa-fdrir, a
tramping pedlar, amongst
other things, in poultry,
wherewith he grew so
wealthy that he became a
landowner, with his seat
" at Water" up from North-
tongue, 126; persuades Arn-
grim the priest to give him
his son Helgi to bring up,
127 ; amasses wealth, yet is
in ill favour of folk, ib. ; re-
fuses to sell aught of his
over-plenty of hay to Blund-
ketil for his tenants, 132-135;
he goes to visit neighbours
to tell them how he has
been robbed by Blundketil,
135-137 ; bribes Thorwald,
son of Odd-a-Tongue, to set
up a law-case against Blund-
ketil, 137-140; brings about
the burning in his house of
Blundketil, 142, 143; is
summoned to the Spring
court of Thingness by Thord
Gellir, 153 ; vanishes from
the countryside, ib. ; lays an
ambush for Herstein, but is
killed himself, 158.
HERFINN, Herfinnr, son of
Thorgils, the son of Gorm
a Swedish duke, xviii.
HERGRIM, Hergrimr, son of
Thorgils, the son of Gorm, a
Swedish duke, xviii.
HERMUND, son of Illugi the
Black of Gilsbank, one of
the Banded Men (he was an
older brother of Gunnlaug
the Wormtongue, and must
have been by this time a
very old man), 94, 96 ; for
his part in the plot against
Odd of Mel, see Banded
Men; he sets out with a
band of men to burn Egil of
Burg in his house, but dies
on the way, 119.
HERSTEIN, Hersteinn, son of
Blundketil, 126; befriends
Erne, the Norwegian ship-
master, 128, 129; staying
with his foster-father Thor-
biorn, on the night of his
father's burning within, he
has a dream telling him of
the event, 143; goes with
Thorbiorn for help and
counsel to Odd-a-Tongue,
143 ; witnesses him hallow
to himself, by fire, his patri-
mony, 144; and his foster-
father moving in wizard's
manner all goods and live
stock from the burnt house
westaway-ward to Swigni-
skarth, 144, 145; his vow at
his own wedding feast, 152 ;
takes up his abode at Gun-
narstead, 155 ; goes to Orn-
olfsdale when other folk
have gone to the Thing,
156; escapes being betrayed
into Hen Thorir's ambush,
and slays him, and rides
with his head to the Althing,
157, IS 8 -
HOGNI, Hogni, son of Hall-
dor, father to Helgi, the
father to Arngrim the priest,
HOLMSTEIN, Hdlmsteinn, son
of Snaebiorn of Waterfirth,
HOWARD THE HALT, HavarSr
halti, xv-xxiii ; dwelt at
Bluemere, a whilom viking
and of good blood, i ; chafes
under the slanders of Thor-
biorn Thiodrekson, 7 ; his
converse with Thorgerd of
Bank, 7, 8 ; is robbed by
Thorbiorn of a whale, 9, 10 ;
flits across Icefirth out of
Thorbiorn's into his own
and builds a house called
Howardstead, xix-xxi, 12 ;
his grief for the death of his
son Olaf, 18-27; claims
atonement of Thorbiorn, and
is ill-treated by him, 19;
rides on the same errand to
the Althing, is befriended
by Guest Oddleifson, but
brutally insulted by Thor-
biorn, 21-27; slays Thor-
biorn in revenge for his son,
30-39 ; slays Liot of Moon-
berg, 38-41 ; is sheltered by
Steinthor of Ere and Atli of
Otterdale, 42-65 ; peace
settled for him by Guest
Oddleifson at the Althing,
63* 64 ; gives a great feast
in honour of Guest and
Steinthor and Atli, 66, 67 ;
flits to Oxdale off Swarfa-
dardale, 67 ; goes abroad,
and is christened, and comes
back with much church
timber ; and settles in Thor-
hallsdale, and dies, 68.
HROAR, father to Sle*ttu-Biorn,
HROMUND, Hromundr (son of
Thorir), a settler, 125.
INGIGERD, IngigerSr, sister to
Dagstygg, queen of King
Burislav of Gardar, xviii.
JARNGERD, JarngerSr, mother
of Ufeig of the Skards, 73.
JARNGERD, daughter of Ufeig
Jarngerdson of the Skards,
mother of Gunnlaug, the
mother of Ufeig of Reeks,
JARNSKEGGI, son of Einar
Eyolfson brother to Gud-
mund the Mighty of Mo-
druvellir in Eyiafirth in the
North, a Banded Man, 94.
JOFRID, Jofrft5r, daughter of
Gunnar the son of Hlifar,
146 ; marries Thorod, son
of Odd-a-Tongue, 159-163;
after one year or so she
The Saga Library.
marries Thorstein of Burg,
the son of Egil, 163.
JOFRID, daughter of Odd-a-
JORUN, Jorunn (daughter of
Helgi), wife of Odd-a-
Tongue, 125, 154.
KETIL BLUND, Ketill Blundr,
a settler, 125.
KOLSKEGG, Kolskeggr, the
Learned, xii, note 2.
LIOT THE SAGE, Ljdtr spaki,
of Ingialdsand, son of Thor-
grirn, xiii ; slain by the sons
of Grim Kogr, xiv, xv.
LIOT, al. Holmgangliot, Ljdtr,
Holmgongu-Ljotr, of Red-
sand, a spurious character
fashioned out of Liot the
Sage of Ingialdsand (see
preface, pp. xiii-xv), 45 ; his
difference with Thorbiorn
of Ere about a water-
meadow, 46 ; is set upon and
slain by the sons of Thor-
biorn, 47, 48; no atone-
ment for him awarded at the
LIOT, reputed " brother to
Thorbiorn, and in all wise
as like him as might be," is
otherwise unknown as one
of the sons of Thiodrek, 2 ;
is attacked and slain in his
house by Howard and his
MAR, Marr, son of Hildir, the
second husband of Swala,
murdered by Uspak, 120.
NESTOR, the historian of
ODD, Oddr, Thorbrandson,
one of Howard's band of
revenge, 29, 32, 39, 41, 61,
62 ; banished the land for
the lifetime of Thorarin,
the priest of Dyrafirth, 64.
ODD, Oddr, son of Ufeig of
Reeks, grows up in little
favour with his father, 73,
74 ; leaves home, and makes
money by fishing and carry-
ing cargoes between Mid-
firth and the Strands, 74,
75 ; he takes to trading
abroad, and was oft with
lords and men of dignity,
75 ; buys the estate of Mel,
and is accounted the richest
man in Iceland, 76 ; takes
in Uspak Glumson, and likes
him well, 76, 77 ; takes up
or buys a new Go'SorS, 77 ;
gives his house and Go'SorS
in Uspak's charge while
going abroad, 78-80 ; re-
turns and forces Uspak to
hand over to him his Go^S-
orft, 81, 82 ; misses forty
wethers at autumn folding,
and lays the theft on Uspak,
83 ; bargains with his kins-
man Vali to find out the
truth, 83, 84 ; goes to sum-
mon Uspak, but is hood-
winked by Swala, 86 ; pro-
secutes Uspakat the Althing
and loses the case, 87-89 ;
wins it again through the
guiles of his father, 90-93 ;
is informed by his father of
the plot of the Banded Men,
95 ; he brings all his wealth
in chattels on board ship in
Ramfirth, 97 ; hears from
his father how his case was
won, 117; sails to Orkney,
and coming back marries a
daughter of Gellir Thorkel-
son, 117-119 ; adventure
with Einar Fly, 167-169 ;
hoodwinks King Harold,
son of Onund Broadbeard, a
GoSi, " not held for a man of
fair dealings," 125 ; as Go^i
he claims to settle the prices
of Erne the Norwegian's
imported wares, 127, 128;
lets the matter rest, on
knowing that Blundketil
has befriended Erne, 130 ;
will have nought to do with
Hen Thorir's slanders of
Blundketil, 137 ; gathers
forces to oppose Thord Gel-
lir at the spring-mote of
Thingness, 153; meets him
at Whitewater with over-
whelming force, so Thord,
after some fighting and loss
of men, has to retire, 154;
goes to the Althing and
rights again with Thord, but
is over-mastered, and "it
went heavily with him," 155-
158; sets on Gunnar of Orn-
olfsdale with intent to burn
him in his house, but is pre-
vented by his own son,
Thorod, who makes peace
between them, 160-163.
OGMUND, Ogmundr, son of
OLAF Evenpate, Olafr Jafna-
kollr, a settler in Icefirth
(see map), xvii.
OLAF Feilan, father to Thord
Gellir ; xxxii.
OLAF, son of Howard, xv-
xviii, "young of years, the
doughtiest of men," etc., 2 ;
he had " bear's-warmth,"
bjarn-ylr (and is therefore
sometimes in Icelandic
folk-lore called O. Bear's-
Warmth), 3 ; his luck in
finding missing sheep in
autumn, 4-6 ; visits Sigrid,
5 ; his wrath at being slan-
dered for theft, 7 ; his fight
with the ghost of Thormod
of Bank, 8-n ; his fight with
Thorbiorn, and death, 14-
1 8 ; the date of the event,
xxii ; atonement awarded for
him at the Althing, 63.
OLAF Tryggvison, King of
Norway, 995-1000, 67, 68.
ONUND Broadbeard, Onundr
BrerSskeggr, a land-settler,
son of Ulfar the son of
Wolf of Fitiar, father to
ORLIG, Orlygr, the Old, son of
Hrapp, a settler, 125.
The Saga Library.
ORNOLF, Orndlfr, a goodman
who tries to betray Herstein
into Hen Thorir's ambush,
OSPAK, Ospakr, Osvifson, xiii.
RANVEIG, daughter of Earl
Griotgarth, mother to Liot
the Sage, xiii.
RED BIORN, RauSa-Bjorn (see
note to p. 126), a settler,
SCART, Skarfr, son of Thordis
of the Knoll the sister of
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, 3 ;
falls fighting against Olaf
Howardson, 1 7 ; judged un-
worthy of atonement at the
SIGRID, SigrfSr, "young and
high - born, " Thorbiorn
1,3, 4; goes from Thorbiorn
of Bathstead to live with
Thoralfof Loonsere, 13, 14;
warns Olaf Howardson not
to fight with Thorbiorn, 14 ;
disappeared on the day that
Olaf fell, and was never heard
of again, 18.
SIGURD, SigurSr, son of Grim,
the slayer of Liot the Sage,
SKEGGBRODDI, son of Biarni,
from Hof in Weaponfirth,
in eastern Iceland, one of
the Banded Men, 94, 97.
SKIDI, father of Ufeig of Reeks,
SLETTU- BIORN, son of Hroar,
a settler of Skagafiord, xviii.
SNJEBIORN, Snaebjorn, son of
Egvind the Eastman, a
settler in Icefirth, xvii.
SN^BIORN Gait, Snaebjorn
Galti, son of Holmstein the
son of Snaebiorn, xvii.
SNORRI the Priest, GoSi, 104.
SNORRI, son of Kalf, a descen-
dant of Odd of Mel, 121.
STEINGRIM, Steingrfmr, son of
Eyolf the Gray, xv, xxii.
STEINOLF, Steindlfr, the Short,
a settler in Saurby in the
Dales, in western Iceland,
STEINTHOR of Ere, Steinfdrr
af Eyri (see preface, p. xv),
a mighty chief from Broad-
firth, befriends Howard,
coming to theThingto claim
atonement of Thorbiorn
Thiodrekson for his son
Olaf, 21-23 ; shelters Ho-
ward and his band after the
slaughter of Thorbiorn and
Liot of Moonberg (see pre-
face, p. xv), 41-45 ; takes in
the slayers of Holmgang-
Liot, 48-50 ; his chief-like
safe-guarding of Howard and
the sons of Thorbiorn of
Ere, 49-53, cf. xv; his visit to
Atli the Little of Otterdale,
5*~55 > g es to the Althing
and acts with Guest Odd-
leifson in settling peace for
Howard, 63-65 ; his daugh-
ters referred to as of mar-
riageable age, 104.
STURLA, son of Thiodrek,
brother to Thorbiorn, 27,
34 ; slain by Torfi Valbrand-
son, 36-38 ; weregild set-
tlement for him at the Al-
thing, 63 ; a mistake of the
saga, for Sturla never went
to Icefirth, but abode in
Saurby, and lived long after
STYRMIR of Asgeirswater, son
of Thorgeir, a Go^i, one of
the Banded Men, combines
with Thorarin of Longdale
to upset Odd's case against
Uspak, 87, 88 ; sets afoot
with Thorarin a plot to ruin
Odd, 94 ; summons Odd for
having brought bribes into
court, 95 ; comes to the Al-
thing, 96; bears the chief
part in the plot of the
Banded Men, 98 ; is severely
rated by "OldUfeig," no.
SWALA, Svala, " a fair woman
and a young," of Swalastead
in Willowdale, prays Uspak
to take over the charge of
her house, 80 ; she betroths
herself to and marries Us-
pak, and goes to live with
him at Mel, 81 ; saves Us-
pak from Odd's attack, 86 ;
married a second time to
Mar, son of Hildir, 120.
SWART, Svartr, a thrall at Ere,
THIODREK, fjoftrekr, son of
Sle'ttu-Biorn, moves his
home from Saurby to Ice-
THIODREK, son of Sturla Thio-
drekson, 27, 34, 63.
THORA, J>6ra, daughter of
King Eric of Upsala, xviii.
THORA, daughter of Gunn-
stein, wife to Olaf Evenpate,
THORALF, )?6ralfr, of Loon-
sere, a kinsman of Sigrid
housekeeper, 3 ; takes his
kinswoman Sigrid from
Bathstead with her goods
appraised to her, 13.
THORARIN, porarinn, foster-
son of Liot the Sage, xiii.
THORARIN the Sage, the Go'Si
of the men of Longdale in
Hunavatns-Thing, one of the
Banded Men, refuses to
give his kinswoman Swala
in marriage to Uspak Glum-
son, 80, 8 1 ; joins Styrmir
of Asgeirswater to upset
Odd's case against Uspak,
87, 88 ; and in a plot to
ruin Odd, 94; and in sum-
moning Odd for having
bribed the judges at the
Althing, 95 ; comes to the
Althing, 97 ; is, with Styr-
mir of Asgeirswater, the ring-
leader in the plot of the
Banded Men, 98.
THORARIN, " brother of those
sons of Thiodrek, a priest
of Dyrafirth," a spurious
character, plans with Thor-
grim, Dyri's son, an armed
The Saga Library.
onset on Atli of Otterdale,
and rides to the Althing,
58 ; agrees to Guest Odd-
leifson's settling of peace
between him and Howard
at the Althing, 63, 64; is
soundly rated by Guest for
THORBIORN, Jjorbjorn, of Ere,
the father of Grim and
Thorstein, who slew " Liot
of Redsand," is the same
person which the Landnama
calls Grim Kogr (see pre-
face, p. xiii), 45, 46; his
dealings with Liot about a
water-meadow, 46, 47 ; his
device for escaping blood-
suit after the slaughter of
Liot by his sons, 48-50 ; the
meadow awarded him at the
THORBIORN, the fosterer of
Herstein Blundketil's son,
skilled in magic, 143 ; seeks
help and counsel of Odd-a-
Tongue after the burning
of Blundketil, ib. ; witnesses
Odd-a-Tongue hallow to him-
self the land of Ornolfsdale,
144 ; drives all Blunketil's
live stock away west to
Swigniskarth, 144, 145 ; gets
Thorkel Welt to befriend
Herstein, Blundketil's son,
THORBIORN, son of Thiodrek
of Bath stead, xv, xix, was
a Gofti in Icefirth, of high
descent, a man of might
and injustice, i ; his deal-
ings with Olaf Howardson,
4-18; robs Howard of a
whale, 9, 10 ; marries the
sister of Guest Oddleifson
(see note to p. 13), 13 ; his
fight with and slaughter of
Olaf Howardson, 14-18; his
outrage on Howard claim-
ing atonement for his son,
19; his dealings with
Howard at the Althing, 21-
27 ; is forced by Guest Odd-
leifson to atone for Olaf
Howardson, 24, 25 ; smites
Howard on the face with a
bag containing the teeth of
his son, 26 ; goes west to
Vadil in his cutter to fetch
his brother Sturla and his
son Thiodrek, 27 ; is slain
by Howard on coming back
to Bathstead, 34-37 ; no
atonement awarded for him
at the Althing, 64.
THORBRAND, Jjorbrandr, bro-
ther to Biargey, 29.
THORD, fdrSr, Gellir, son of
Olaf Feilan, 146 ; is be-
guiled by Gunnar Hlifarson
to betroth in his own name
his foster-daughter Thurid,
Gunnar's own daughter, to
Herstein, Blundketil's son,
before being told that he is
a houseless orphan, 149-151;
whereat Thord is exceeding
wroth, 151; but yet has
Thurid and Herstein mar-
ried at his house, 152, 153 ;
he goes to Burgfirth and
summons Arngrim the
priest and Hen Thorir to
Thingness-thing, 153 ; goes
to prosecute the blood-suit
after Blundketil at Thing-
ness-thing, but has after
some fighting to yield to
ing force, and appeals the
case to the Althing, 154, 155;
rides to the Althing, where
he fights with Odd - a -
Tongue, who gets the worst
of it, and accepts a peaceful
award of the blood-case,
i55 i5 6 -
THORDIS, Jjdrdis, daughter of
Asmund the Long-hoary,
sister to Grettir the Strong,
wife of Glum Uspakson of
THORDIS, wife of Atli the
Little of Otterdale, 51-53.
THORDIS of Knoll (d. of
Thiodrek), sister to Thor-
biorn Thiodrekson, and
mother of Vakr and Scart,
3 ; eggs Scart to join Thor-
biorn in the fight with Olaf
THORGEIR, porgeirr, of Bath-
dale, son of Haldora, comes
to the Thing riding " from
the east," so he must, in all
probability, have come from
Bathdale, Laugardal, in
Arness-Thing, one of the
Banded Men, 94, 97.
THORGEIR of Withymere,
father to Helga, the wife of
Thorkel the son of Gunn-
THORGERD, JjorgertSr, wife of
Thormod of Bank, 2 ; comes
to Bluemere for help against
her dead husband walking
THORGERD, daughter of Vali,
wife of Ufeig of Reeks,
THORGILS, forgils, son of
Gorm, duke in Sweden, and
Thora, daughter of King
Eric of Upsala, xviii.
THORGILS, son of Halla, a
kinsman of Guest Oddleif-
THORGRIM, Jjorgrimr, Dy-
ri's son, "a wizard," 58
THORGRIM Gagar (Dog), son
of Liot the Sage, xiii, xiv.
THORGRIM, son of Hardref,
father to Liot, xiii.
THORHALL, pdrhallr, a kins-
man of Howard's, 3 ; helps
Biargey, when Howard grows
helpless from grief, to keep
the house going, 18 foil. ;
goes with Howard on his
journey of revenge for Olaf,
31-39 ; fights with the Dyra-
firthers, 61, 62; settles in
Thorhallsdale in Eyiafirth,
THORIR, J>6rir. See Hen
THORIR the Stamper, J?6rir
THORIR Thorbrandson, one
of Howard's band of re-
venge, 29, 32, 39, 41, 61,
62 ; banished the land dur-
The Saga Library.
ing the lifetime of Thorarin,
priest of Dyrafirth, 64.
THORKEL, forkell, son of
Blundketil, by Ari stated to
have been burnt in the house
of Ornolfsdale instead of
Blundketil himself, a state-
ment also recorded in other
old authorities, xxxii, n.
THORKEL of Eiderisle, " the
Lawman of those of Ice-
THORKEL, son of Grim Kogr,
the slayer of Liot the Sage
(Landnama, pp. 145-147),
THORKEL, son of Gunnwald
(see note to p. 126, 1. n),
married to Helga, the
daughter of Thorgeir of
Withy mere, 126.
THORKEL WELT, J>orkell Tref-
ill, son of Red Biorn, dwelt
at Swigniskarth, 126; be-
friends Herstein, Blund-
ketil's son, after the burning
of his father, 145, 146 ; forces
Gunnar, son of Hlifar, not
knowing that Herstein
Blundketilson is a homeless
orphan, to promise him his
daughter Thurid in marriage,
146-148; gathers forces
to back Thord Gellir in the
blood-suit at Thingness-
Thing, 155, 156.
THORLEIF, forleifr, son of
Eyvind Knee, xvi.
THORMOD, pormd'Sr, of Bank,
supposed to be a shape-
changer, 2 ; walks again,
and is laid by Olaf Howard-
son, 7-1 1.
THORMOD Coalbrowscald, son
of Bersi, xvi, and note i.
THOROD, }>6roddr, son of
Odd-a-Tongue, 125 ; woos
and finally marries Jofrid,
the daughter of Gunnar, son
of Hlifar, 159-63; the same
year he went abroad to ran-
som his brother Thorwald,
but never returned back to
THOROLF Fox, J>6r61fr Refr,
brother to Alf-a- Dales, killed
in the fight at Thrallstream-
THORSTEIN, porsteinn, son of
Egil of Burg, the second
husband of Jofrid, the
daughter of Gunnar, 163.
THORSTEIN, " kinsman of
Thorir Hound," a friend of
Odd Ufeigson's at the court
of King Harold " HarS-
rafti," xxvi ; helps Odd
out of a smuggling scrape,
170-174; receives in return
for his services a set of stal-
lions from Odd, 174, 175;
loses Harold's favour, 175.
THORSTEIN, son of Thorbiorn
of Ere, probably the same
as the Landnama calls Thor-
kel, son of Grim Kogr, slays
Liot of Redsand, and joins
Howard's band at Steinthor
of Ere's, 46-49, 61, 62 ;
banished the land for the
lifetime of Thorarin, the
priest of Dyrafirth, 64.
THORUNN, J><5runn, daughter
of Gunnar Hlifarson, xxxii.
THORWALD, porvaldr, Oddson.
(See Thorwald, son of Odd-
THORWALD, son of Odd-a-
Tongue, 125 ; comes from
a foreign voyage to North-
tongue, and meeting Hen
Thorir there, takes up his
case against Blundketil, 137-
140; goes to summon Blund-
ketil, 140-142; burns Blund-
ketil in his own house, 142,
143 ; is banished the country
for three years, 158 ; was
taken captive and enslaved
in Scotland, ib.
THURID Bedsow, JmrftSr nim-
gylta, wife of Eyvind Knee,
THURID, daughter of Gunnar
son of Hlifar, and foster-
child of Thord Gellir's,
146 ; by Ari she is called
Thorunn, xxxii, so also in
some other old records.
THURID, daughter of Odd-a-
TORFI, son of Valbrand, mar-
ried Thurid, daughter of
Odd-a-Tongue, 125, 161.
TORFI Valbrandson, one of
Howard's band of revenge,
28, 32 ; fights with Sturla
Thiodrekson, and slays him,
36-38 ; his deeds at Moon-
berg, 39-41 ; at Otterdale,
59-62 ; banished the land
as long as Thorarin, the
priest of Dyrafirth, should
UFEIG, Ufeigr, of the Skards,
son of Jarngerd, Ufeig of
Reeks' great - grandfather,
UFEIG, son of Skidi, probably
of the so-called " Skidung-
kin," descendants of two
grandsons of Skidi the Old,
Eihf Eagle and Thorkel
Vingnir, who settled land in
Hunavatns-Thing, dwelt at
Reeks in Midfirth, and was
a " thingman " of Styrmir
of Asgierswater, 73 ; has a
son Odd whom he dislikes,
74 ; saves by bribery the case
against Uspak which Odd
had lost, 89-93; his talk
with Odd on the plot of the
Banded Men, 95 ; his ad-
vice to Odd how to elude
the Banded Men, 96 ; goes
with Styrmir the GoSi to
the Thing, 96; his means
of undoing the plot of the
Banded Men, 97-108; gets
the consent of the Banded
Men to two of their com-
pany, whom he himself se-
lects, judging Odd's case,
109; rates the Banded Men
all round, and selects as
judges Egil and Gellir, whom
he had already bribed, no-
112; sings an exulting song
in memory of his victory
over the Banded Ones, 1 16.
The Saga Library.
ULVAR, Ulfarr, son of Wolf
of Fitiar, father to Onund
Broadbeard, 125, n.
USPAK, Uspakr, son of Glum
Uspakson of Skridinsenni
and Thordis, the sister of
Grettir the Strong, "ill to
deal with and masterful,"
ferried wares between the
Strands and the North-
country, 76 ; craves Odd to
take him in, 76, 77 ; he be-
comes the trusted foreman
of Odd's house, 77-80; he
overtakes Odd's Go'SorS
in his absence abroad, 79 ;
marries Swala of Swalastead,
80, 8 1 ; holds the GoSorS
in Odd's despite till he is
forced to give it up, 81,
82 ; leaves Mel at enmity
with Odd, 82; is suspected
and found guilty of sheep-
stealing, 83-85 ; slays Vali,
86 ; is summoned to the
Althing by Odd, and is first
acquitted and afterwards
found guilty, 87-93 > ne dis-
appears for a long time till
he returns to murder Swala's
second husband, and to
maim and kill the cattle of
his enemy, Bergthor of
Bodvarsknolls, and the
stallions of Odd ; he is
mortally wounded by Mar's
half - witted brother, and
found long after dead in a
cave, 120, 121.
VAKR, son of Thordis the sister
of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson,
2 ; his slanderous behaviour
to Olaf Howardson, 4-7 ;
takes part in the slaughter
of Olaf Howardson, 14-18;
his death, 34, 35 ; no atone-
ment awarded for him at
the Althing, 64.
VALBRAND, Valbrandr, son of
Eyvind Knee, and father to
VALBRAND, brother to Biargey,
28, 31, 32.
VALBRAND, son of Valthiof,
father to Torfi, 125.
VALI, a kinsman of Ufeig of
Reeks, and fostered in his
house, 73, 74, 76, 78; pro-
poses to find out for Odd
of Mel who has stolen his
missing wethers, 83 ; brings
the theft home to Uspak,
84, 85 ; slain by Uspak,
VALI, father to Thorgerd, the
wife of Ufeig of Reeks,
VALTHIOF, ValJ)j6fr, the Old,
son of Orlyg, a settler, 125.
VEBIORN Sygnakappi, xvi.
VEDIS, Ve"dfs, sister to Vebiorn
Sygnakappi, married to
Grimolf, the son of Olaf
VIDFARI, Vfftfari, " a gangrel
man," and akin to Hen
WOLF the Crow, Ulfr krdka,
WOLF the Marshal, Ulfr Stal-
lari, son of Ospak Osvifson,
xiii, xxi, xxii.
WOLF of Fitiar, Ulfr af Fit-
jum, son of Thorir the
AODIR, AgSir, a district of
south-western Norway, xvi.
AKRANESS, Akranes, the south-
westernmost promontory of
the Burgfirth bailiwick,
staftir, the home of Asbrand,
brother to Biargey, 29.
ASGEIRSWATER, Asgeirsd, a
farmstead in Willowdale in
Hunavatns-Thing, the home
of Styrmir the priest, 73.
BANK, Bakki, the abode of
Thormod, the shape-chan-
ger, now not to be found
within the neighbourhood
of Bluemere or Bathstead,
BARDSTRAND, BarSastrond, a
seaboard countryside on
the northern side of Broad-
firth, 13, 67.
1. A valley in the penin-
sula between Skatefirth and
Narrowbay, in Icefirth, xvi,
2. A valley due east of
the Thing-meads, in the
upper part of Araess-Thing,
BATHSTEAD, Laugabol, the
house of Thorbiorn Thiod-
rekson, situate in Bathdale, a
still standing farmstead, but
not on the old site, lying
within the parish of Ogur,
! 2 , 7, !3> 33, 34-
BITRA, alias BitrufjorSr, the
southernmost bay in the
coast-range of the bailiwick
of Strandir, 75, 76.
BLUEMERE, the homestead of
Howard the Halt, now
called Blam^rar, a farmstead
in the parish of Ogur in the
bailiwick of Icefirth, Isa-
fjarSars^sla, xvii, i.
heifti, seems to be a name
" for the whole wood-grown
continuous tract of lava
which surrounds the Thing-
mead-water by north, west,
and south, a very descrip-
tive name on account of the
deeply blue-green birch
copse which is spread over
the whole of the dark
ground" (Kalund), 96.
The Saga Library.
BLUNDWATER, Blundsvatn, a
BOARDERE, BorSeyrr, mod.
Borfteyri, a harbour, and
now a growing trading sta-
tion on the northern side
of Ramfirth, 75.
hdlar, a farmstead in the
commune called Thwart-
water-rape, pverarhreppr, in
BRENT, Brekka, a homestead
in the countryside of In-
BROADFIRTH, BrerSifjor^Sr, the
largest bay in Iceland, 106,
1. The seat of Odd-a-
Tongue, situate in the
q. v., in Burgfirth, 125, 136.
2. The seat of Torfi Val-
brandson, situate in the
close neighbourhood of the
BURG, Borg, the home of Egil
Skulison in Burgfirth, west-
ern Iceland, 101, 106, 114,
1. An inlet from Faxe-
Bay in south-western Ice-
land, 101, 1 06, 127.
2. The district which ex-
tends to the river basins
round the bay, xxxii, 125,
BURG-KNOLLS, Borgarh611, a
house of which the site now
is unknown, but must have
been near to Swalastead,
DALES, Dalir, the eastern sea-
board and river basins of
DYRAFIRTH, DyrafjorSr, one
of the larger firths that cut
from north-west into the
north-western peninsula of
Iceland, 58, 61.
EIDERISLE, y$ey, an island a
short distance off the north-
ern coast of Islefirth, 2.
ERE, the seat of the spurious
character, Thorbiorn, the
father of the boys who slew
Liot of Redsand, xv, 45.
ERE, Eyrr, now Hallbiarnar-
eyri, on a broad ness be-
tween Grundarfirth and
Kolgrafarfirth on the south
side of Broadfirth, the seat
of Steinthor, 21, 42, 67.
ESJUBERG, a homestead be-
neath the steep mountain
Esja which forms Kjalarnes,
facing Reykjavik to the
EYIAFIRTH, EyjafjortSr, the
largest inlet on the northern
shore of Iceland, 75.
EYIAFORD, Eyjavaft, a ford
across Northwater, 154.
FINMARK, Finnmork or Mork,
FINS, Finnar, 167, 168, 170,
FITIAR, the seat of the lords
of the island of Stord in
Hordaland in Norway, 125.
GEIRSLITHE, GeirshliS, the
abode of Geir the Wealthy,
situate in the valley called
" Flokadale," which lies be-
tween the two Reekdales,
GARDAR, GarSar, the name of
the Scandinavian kingdom
in Russia, xviii.
a homestead on the inner
Woodstrand, q. v., the seat
of Gunnar, the son of Hlifar,
146, 152, 155.
GUNNBIORN Skerries, Gunn-
HAVEN, Horn, a homestead
on the southern side of the
bay of Burgfirth (see note
to p. 129), 129.
HELGIWATER, Helgavatn, " up
from Northtongue," q. v.,
the seat of Hen Thorir,
HORSEFIRTH, Hestfjorftr, an
inlet on the southern side
of Icefirth, xvi.
HOLTBEACON HEATH, Holta-
vorSuherSr, a wide upland
plateau, forming the water-
shed between north-eastern
Burgfirth and southern
1. A home built by
Howard the Halt on the
northern shore of Islefirth,
now in ruins, which still
bear the old name, xix, 12.
2. A house built by him
on settling in Oxdale off
1. The seat of Helgi,
brother of Red Biorn, situate
in Northwaterdale, 126,
2. The seat of Thord
Gellir, situate at the bottom
of Hwammfirth, an inlet
from the south-eastern part
of Broadfirth, 149, 151.
ICEFIRTH, the largest bay of
north-western Iceland, the
scene of Howard the Halt's
saga, i, passim.
ICELAND, its literature, i-xii;
republican constitution, &c.,
INGIALDSAND, a countryside
on the western side of
Onundarfiord in the north-
western peninsula of Ice-
KNOLL, Hvdll, in Icefirth, the
home of Thordis, sister of
identified by Dr. KSlund
as the now deserted place
Ldnsholl, situated on the
western side of Kaldal6n,
The Saga Library.
Cold-loch, which cuts in a
north-easterly direction into
the country from the inner
part of Icefirth, 3.
KOLLAFIRTH, KollafjorSr, the
next firth to the northward
from Bitra, q. v., 76.
LOONSERE, Ldnseyri, the home
of Thoralf, a still existing
farmstead built on the corner
of land formed by the waters
of Icefirth and Kaldaldn,
LONGDALE, Langidalr, a pa-
rallel valley to Waterdale
to the north of it, in the
basin of Hunafl<5i, 84.
the northern boundary of
the settlement of Snaebiorn,
in Icefirth (see map), xvii.
MARK, short for Finmark,
MEAD, Hagi, on the seaboard
of Bardstrand, the home-
stead of Guest Oddleifson,
MEAD (see Thing-mead).
MEL, now Melsta'Sr, a goodly
house on the northern side
of Midfirth-river, two miles
up from the bottom of the
bay, 75, 76, 77,81,86, 100,
MIDFIRTH, MrSfjorSr, be-
tween Ramfirth in the west
and Hiinaf jorSr in the east,
the middle bay of the three
that from Hunafldi cut in a
duesouthernly direction into
the land, 73, 75, 118.
MIOLA, an island in the pro-
vince of Helgeland, Norway,
MIRES, M^rar, the Fens, on the
eastern side of Faxe Bay,
bounded by lower Burgfirth
from south-east and south,
MISCHIEF, Osdmi, a brook
dividing the lands of Liot
the Sage and Grim Kogr,
NARROWBAY, MjdifjorSr, an
inlet on the southern side of
Icefirth, xvi, xvii.
the seat of Amgrim the priest,
situate in the countryside
called Thwartwaterlithe, the
northern slope of the river
Thwartwater, one of the
northern tributaries of the
Whitewater of Burgfirth, 1 25,
126, 135, 137, 153.
NORTHWATER, NorSra, the
largest northern tributary to
Whitewater in Burgfirth,
dalr, the river basin of upper
Northwater, 126, 153, 154.
NORWAY, 67, 118, 163.
OGRWICK, Ogrvik, a bight on
the coast of the peninsula
formed by the two firths,
Skatefirth and Narrowbay,
in Icefirth, xvi.
1. A valley within the
lower part of the country-
side of Thwartwaterlithe in
Burgfirth, within which Ari
apparently has regarded
Helgiwater as situate, xxxii.
2. The homestead of
Blundketil on Thwartwater,
126, 142, 144, 155, 156,
OTTERDALE, Otrardalr, a
homestead, now a parson-
age, on the southern coast of
upper Arnar-firth in the
north-western peninsula of
Iceland, 51, 57, 58, 59, 65,
OXDALE, Oxadalr,an off- valley
of Svarfadardale (see Ka-
lund, ii. 99), 67.
the seat of the settler Olaf
RAMFIRTH, HnitafjorSr, the
next bay to the west of Mid-
firth, 75, 81, 97.
REDSAND, Rauftisandr, the
mythical homestead of the
equally mythical " Holm-
i. "Hinn nyrSri," now
Reykholtsdalr, the basin of
Reykj adalsa, Reekdale-river,
one of the southern tribu-
taries to the lower White-
water, 125, 153.
2. "Hinn sySri," the
southernmost, now called
Lundareykjadalr, formed by
the river Grimsd, one of the
southern tributaries to the
lower Whitewater, 153.
REEKS, Reykir, the house of
Ufeig, son of Skidi, standing
on the eastern side of the
Midfirth river opposite to
that of Mel, some two miles
up from the sea, 73.
REYPARMULi,a bold mountain
formation on the left-hand
side of the road going from
the Thing-meads to Bath-
ROME, pilgrimage to, xxvii.
ROSKILDE, the old cathedral
city of Seeland in Denmark,
the western boundary of the
settlement of Olaf Evenpate
(see map), xvii.
SAURBY, Saurbaer, a valley in
the Dales in western Ice-
SEYDISFIRTH, an inlet on the
southern side of Icefirth (see
SIDAMULI, SfSumiili, a farm-
stead in the countryside
called Whitewater-side in
SKAGAFIORD, SkagafjortSr, a
wide bay on the northern
coast of Iceland, xviii.
The Saga Library.
on the northern side of
Reekdale the northernmost,
SKARDS, SkorS, the homestead
of Ufeig Jarngerdson, situate
in Reykjahverfi in the pre-
sent southern Thingeyjar-
SKATEFIRTH, SkotufjorSr, an
inlet on the southern side
of Icefirth, xvi.
SKORRADALE, Skorradalr, a
valley of Burgfirth running
parallel with Reykjardal, 2 ;
on the south of it, 153.
SKRIDINSENNI (see note to
p. 76), 76.
STAFFHOLT, Stafholt or Stafa-
holt, the chief homestead in
the countryside of StarTholts-
tungur, the tongue of land
formed by the confluence
of Northwater and White-
water in Burgfirth, 154.
STONEFORD, Steinsva'S, a ford
on Whitewater, locality un-
certain, 1 6 1.
STRANDS, Strandir, short for
Hornstrandir, the western
seaboard of Hunafldi, 75.
SWALASTEAD, now a deserted
home in ruins in Willow-
dale, 80, 81, 82, 84, 86,
SWANFIRTH, AlptafjorSr, an
inlet on the southern side
of Icefirth, xvi.
dalr, a valley on the northern
side of Eyiafiord, towards
the mouth of it, 67.
SWEDEN, Svtyjo'S, xviii.
Thorkel Welt's abode, on
the river called Gorge-
river, Gljufra, a northern
tributary to the lower White-
water, situate within the
commune of Burg (Borgar-
hreppr) in the bailiwick of
the Mires, 126.
THING-MEAD, fingvollr, the
fields surrounded by lava
on the northern side of
Thing-mead Water, j?ing-
vallavatn, in Arness-Thing,
where, from A.D. 930 to
1264, the Althing of re-
publican Iceland, and from
1264 to 1800 that of de-
pendent Iceland, was held,
THINGNESS, fingnes, a home-
stead on the southern side
of the lower White-river in
Burgfirth, the site of the
spring - assembly of the
THIOTTA, Jjjdtta, now Tjoto,
an island in the province of
Helgeland, Norway, 169.
staSir, the home of Biargey's
brother, Thorbrand, site un-
known, 29, 32.
sta'Sir, a homestead in the
countryside called White-
water-side in Burgfirth, 119.
fjorSr, a small bay north of
Eyiafiord, in the present
bailiwick of southern
a by -valley off Swarfad-
ardale, where Howard
settled on returning a Chris-
tian to Iceland from Nor-
sta^Sir, the house set up by
Thorhall, Howard's kins-
man, after the former's
death in the upper part of
a ford of Whitewater, 154.
arhlftS, the northern slope
of the upper Thwartwater,
VADIL, Va'Sill, seems to refer
to the well-known harbour
of that name on Bardstrand,
xiii, 27, 67.
staftir, the home of Biargey's
brother Valbrand, site un-
WATER. (See Helgiwater.)
WATERDALE, Vatnsdalr, one
of the valleys running in-
land from Hunafirth, 84.
WATERFIRTH, VatnsfjorSr, the
homestead of Snaebiorn at
the top of a small inlet of
the same name, on the
southern side of upper Ice-
WATERNESS, Vatnsnes, a broad
ness dividing Midfirth from
WHITEWATER, Hvita, the main
river of Burgfirth, 153, 154.
WILLOWDALE, Viftidalr, the
next valley to the eastward
from Midfirth, 80.
WITHYMERE, the seat of
Thorgeir ofWithymere, 126.
a countryside on the south-
eastern side of Broadfirth,
The Saga Library.
III. SUBJECT MATTER.
Appraising goods out of one's
house, 13 (cf. GoSi, and
Award, "gortS;" "segja upp
gortS," give out an award,
Banner, "merki," borne be-
fore a chief, in.
BearVwarmth, "bjarnylr," 3,
note, p. 1 8 1.
Berth, " rdm," within a booth,
22 (cf. House).
Betroth (betrothal), "fastna,"
Booth, see House.
Bridal, "veizla," 118 (see
Burning (of an enemy within
his house, recognized as a
form of carrying out a blood-
feud, but always looked upon
as an evil deed), discounten-
anced by the noble Howard,
39 ; urged by the base Thor-
grim of Dyrafirth, 60 ; in-
tended by the fierce Her-
mund, 119; and the over-
bearing Odd-a-Tongue, 162;
executed in an evil hour by
Hen Thorir and his accom-
plices, 142-144, cf. 145.
Bury. To be buried, where
a wide view could be had
over lands belonging to the
descendants of the dead, 163.
Cattle, maimed, 120, 121.
Chaff, refuse of hay, "mo'S/^o.
Chapmen, "kaupmenn," 118,
Chest, "kista," wherein wea-
pons are kept, 31.
Christening, " skfrn," 68.
Church-going, " vera 1 gongu,"
Church building, 68.
Church timber, imported from
Cliff-road, "klifgata," 157.
Contract by the outstretched
hand, 148 (cf. Hansel).
Cotcarle (cottager), " kotkarl,"
Crew of a merchantman quar-
tered about the country,
Day-meal, "dagverSr," 132.
Death-call (from the guardian
spirits of an old landed
Divorce, " skilnaftr," 26.
Doom-ring, "domhringr," 91.
Dodderer, nickname of an old
Dower, "gora heiman," 107.
Dreams. Ill at ease in sleep,
" lata ilia f svefni," 59 ; Atli's
dream, 59, 60; Herstein's
Dress. Breeches, " braekr," 3,
8, 37; linen breeches, "lin
b.," 147; cape, "stakkr,"
60; "cloak, "kapa," 92,
" kapu-hottr," no; cloak-
skirt, "kapuskaut," 25, 102;
cloth (kerchief), "knyti-
skauti," 26 ; cowl, " stakkr,"
54; doublet, "stakkr," 52;
fell,"feldr,"8; frock (blue),
"blar stakkr," 37; shirt,
"skyrta," 3, 8, 147; shoes,
"skdr," 56; black shoes,
"svartir skdr," of tanned
leather, as distinguished
from brogues of untanned
skin, 147 ; high shoes, "upp-
hafir s.," 32; shoe-thongs,
" skdj)vengir," 56 ; skin,
" feldr," 58 ; sleeve, "ermr,"
88 ; sleeve-cloak, " erma-
kapa," 88 ; slouched hat,
" sfthetta," 88.
Drift-log, " rekatreY' 9.
Drift right, "reki," 9.
Easter tide, 114.
Eastmen, Norwegians, 128.
Enslaving (in Scotland), 158.
Evensong, " aftansongr," 108.
Feast, "veizla," 57, 66 (cf.
Fetches, "manna hugir," in
the shape of animals, 60.
Fights, "bardagi." Between
OlafandThorbiorn, 16, 17;
Howard and Thorbiorn, 34-
39 ; Howard and Liot of
Moonberg, 40; Atli and
Thorgrim of Dyrafirth, 60-
62 ; Thord Gellir and Odd-
a-Tongue, 154, 156 ; Her-
stein and Hen Thorir, 158.
Fines, "fegj61d,""fe"sekt," 113.
Fin goods, Fin scat, 168-172.
Fire. Hallowing for one's
self no man's land by fire,
144 (cf. pref. xliv-xlvi).
Fishing. Biargey's business
for the support of her house,
1 8, 19, 27; profitable North-
land industry, 74; fisher-
men, 74; fishing gear, "veftS-
arfaeri," 74; fishing line,
Food. Cheese, " ostr," 5 1 ;
dried fish, "skrertS," 51;
flesh meat of every kind,
"sldtr allskonar," 51.
Foreshore, "eyrr," 15.
Forked cudgel, "forkr," used
for weapon, 16.
Fostering of a chiefs child a
coveted privilege by the
lower sort, 127 ; fosterer,
32; foster-father, 127; fos-
Games. Skin-play, " skinn
leikr,"55 ; ball-play, "knatt-
leikr," 55 ; wrestling, 56 ;
pairing one man with an-
other (inter poculd), 115.
Gangrel man, " reikunar-
Garth, "garEr," the wall round
The Saga Library.
the home-mead, 19; the
yard within which the hay-
stacks stood, = " heygarSr,"
5 2 -
Ghost, hauntings, 7-11 (cf.
Gifts. Tokens, not only of
personal friendship, but also
of social distinction, 25,
140 ; in golden rings, 49,
66 ; in oxen, " yxn," 66,
119; in shields, 66; in
swords, 66 ; in war array,
"hervdpn," 66; in horses,
Go^i, priest, expected to help
his liege-folk against ghosts,
7 ; claims the right of ap-
praising foreign imports,
128; forbids all intercourse
with merchants till his price-
list (tax) is out, 128; is
expected to set right the
grievances of his "Thing-
men," 135; safeguards those
whose acts of revenge have
brought them into trouble,
43 (cf. pref. xxviii-xxx).
Guilty men all go wheresoever
one goes, 5 2 ; fully guilty :
exiled the country for ever,
and fined in mangild (were-
gild) besides, 152.
Hansel, " handsala," the cus-
tomary sign manual to a
binding contract in an il-
literate age, no ; h. money
and lawsuits, 139; h. fines
(guaranty that fines shall
be paid), no; h. voiding
(dropping) of a case, no
(cf. Take hands).
Haven, " horn," artificially
Hay, "ta3a,"32, 134; raking
up of, 32 ; forced sale of in
hard times, 133 ; hay-loads
bound up in ropes, 135 ;
hayharvest (failure of), 130;
haystack, " heykleggi," 52.
Hides, " hii'Sir," used for pro-
tection of goods, 135.
Hill of Laws, "logberg," 93,
Holmgang, "single fight" (cf.
Home-man, " heimama'Sr," a
free servant, his business,
2-4, 50; did housecarles'
service (see Housecarle).
Home-mead, "tun," "tofcu-
vollr," "vollr," 9, 28, 32,
52, 60, 145, 162.
Horses, one householder pos-
sessed of 1 60, 131 ; shipped
abroad, 174; ice-horses,
" klakahross," left to shift
for themselves in all weathers
in winter, 114.
Hospitality shown to foreign-
ers, 129; the guest is bid-
den welcome, 145 ; bidden
come to meat, 146; the
honoured guest sits on the
dai's, 138 ; or on the bench
opposite to that whereon
the master is seated, 49,
50; he seats his followers
in order on either side of
himself, 44 ; the guests'
clothes and weapons are
taken care of, 44 ; dry
clothes are provided for
them, 44 ; goodly cheer and
entertainment given, 45 ;
at feasts guests are mar-
shalled by the master to
their seats, 152 ; an unwel-
come guest is left to wander
about the floor, 138; it told
much in a man's favour to
" grudge meat to no man,"
73> 99 > while the meat-
begrudger, " matsinkr," was
House, its various kinds and
appointments. Empty tofts,
ruins of abandoned settle-
ments, 12 ; earth-house, an
underground safety passage
from a house, 38, 39 ; out-
bower, or storehouse, "uti-
bur," 39, 5 1, 5 2,5 4, 1 44; byre,
cowstall, " fjos," 120, 144;
stithy, "smrSja,"i56; booth
(a house without roof, and
tilted over for temporary
use), 21-24, 26, 90, 93, 94,
103, 117; booth door, 97;
booth lane, " btfiSarsund,"
88; sheepfolds, see Sheep.
Dwelling house proper : hall,
"skali," "stofa," 6, 8, 39,
81, 82, 120, 133; sleeping
chamber, bed - chamber,
"hvilugdlf," 38, 40 ; women's
bower, " stofa," 40 ; house
wall, "hiisveggr," 39, 60;
gable, "gafl," gable wain-
scot, "bjorr," 7; door by
the gable end, 8 ; two doors
in front of a hall (by either
gable, namely, men's door,
" karldyr," and women's
door, " kvendyr "), 39 ;
doors smitten on by visitors
to the house, 4, 14, 120,
132, 146; self-shutting door,
wicket, " skellihurS," 4 ;
door ring, 147 ; door ledge,
"oki,"4; door bolted, 132 ;
window, " gluggr," 3 1 ; win-
dow in a door, 161 ; house
dim inside even in midday,
86; light, "Ijos," hung up
in the hall, 8, 40 ; benches
on either side of the house,
49, 152; dai's, "pallr" (a
raised seat at the end of a
hall), 6, 138, 152; table,
"borS," 4, 42 ; beds, 54,.
55, 120; beds arranged in
a storehouse, 51, 57; shut
bed, "lokrekkja," 38; gable-
end bed, " stafnrekkja," 8.
Housecarle, servant labourer,
Householder, " buma'Sr," 98.
Huckstering in poultry and
sundry wares, 126.
Hundred, "hundraS" = 120
ells of wadmal, 46.
Implements. Pikestaff, "brodd-
stafr," 88; rake, "hrifa,"
32; staff, "stafr," 26; seal-
nets, "not," 28, 32 ; switch,
" svigi," 159; trout-nets,
"net," 29; turf-axe, -cutter,
hnifr," 1 20.
The Saga Library.
Imports : malt and corn, 116 ;
taxing or appraising of, 127
(cf. pref. xxix, xxx).
Judicial venality, 92, 93.
Landlord and tenants, 130-
Law quibbles, 88, 89.
Leets, " leiftir." Rangar leet,
116; Hwamm's leet, 119
(cf. preface and Thing).
Lawman, "logma^Sr," 2, 9,
Manslaughter (owned to or de-
clared by the doer as his
deed, a legal duty, as else it
was murder), 121.
Market for imported goods,
Match (marriage), 105, 150.
Meatluck, a mocking name
for a meat vessel, 115.
Money out at interest, i, 126;
buried and never found
again, 119 (cf. Silver).
Oaths by judges, 92 ; by con-
federates to a plot, 94, 102.
Outlawry, "sektir," 102, 139
Outrage on a dead man, 17
(cf. 26), 37.
Poetical periphrases :
Arrows, handmaidens (iron.),
Axe, black-shanks, "svart-
Blood, corpse sea, 31 ;
sword dew, 37.
Fight, brunt of bucklers, 30 ;
edge play, 41 ; spear play,
storm, 63 ; steel meeting,
30 ; war gale, 44.
Gold, firth's sun, 43.
Head, land of hats (head =
reason, wits), 116.
Man, dealer of the firth's
sun (liberal of gold), 43 ;
fir-stems'of the fight sun
(shield-bearers), 50 ; folk
of Valkyr's fire, 44 ; grove
of metal (fully armed),
1 1 6 ; lords of the blood-
wolf, 44 ; lords of loud
shields' clashing, 100 ;
lords of sea-king's stallion,
56 ; people's waster, 42 ;
shipdweller, lord, 30, 42 ;
Mew, high screaming, hail-
besmitten bird of slaugh-
Odin, lord of hanged men,
Raven, hawk of slaughter,
3 1 ; blood-fowl, Odin's
Shield, fight sun, 50.
Ship, sea-horse, xxiii; sea-
king's stallion, 56.
Sword, blood ice (cold steel),
41 ; blood wolf, 44 ; Val-
kyr's fire, 44 ; war-sheen,
Wave, Gylvi's garth, 56.
Priest, Christian, fetched to a
dying man, 119.
Priest, "gofti," "go'SorSs-
ma^r," 58, 80 (cf. preface).
Priests mentioned : Arngrim
of Northtongue ; Egil Skuli-
son ; Gellir Thorkelson ;
Guest Oddleifson ; Her-
mund Illugison ; Jarnskeggi
Einarson ; Odd-a-Tongue ;
Biarnson ; Snorri " the
priest"; Steinthor of Ere];
Styrmir of Asgeirswater ;
Thorarin, Longdale priest;
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson ;
Thord Gellir; Thorgeir Hal-
Priesthood, "goSorS," 77
(cf. Rule over folk) ; had
in commission, 79-82.
Procedure (legal) : days of
summoning, 86 ; case pre-
pared for the Althing, 87 ;
neighbours summoned from
home in a blood-suit, 87 ;
prosecution in opened court,
87 ; a manslaughter case
voided because a sum-
moned -from -home neigh-
bour having died, the plain-
tiff summoned from home
another in his stead, so that
from home were summoned
ten instead of nine neigh-
bours, the proper way of
filling the vacancy being to
summon the wanting neigh-
bour at the Althing, 87 ;
self-doom (self-award), 102,
109, no, 139; amicable
settlement, " peace," "saett-
ir," 63; umpiredom, "gerS"
(cf. Award), 63, 64 ; voiding
(dropping) of a case, no;
summing up a case, 120;
cases defeated at the Varying
laid to the Althing, 154.
Purse, "sj6Br," 90, 92, 96,
Rings (scraps of), "bauga-
brot," bad payment, 114.
Ring, "hringr," " hvirfing,"
circle formed by bystanders
to witness a legal act, 21, 25,
Rule (a goal's) over folk,
" mannaforraSS," 13, 104.
Season of failure of crops with
a hard winter following, 1 30-
133 ; seasons of the year,
Sheep, " feY' ingathering of in
autumn, 78, 80, 83, 121 ;
folding in autumn, 4, 5 ;
folds, "fjarhus," 10; driving
to winter pastures, 145, 146;
feeding at stall, 146; shep-
herding, 14; sheep-tending,
2, 10, 145 ; sheep-drover,
15 ; sheep-stealing, 83-85 ;
sheep-walks, 4, 5, 6, 181 ;
wethers, " geldingar," 4 ;
ewes with sucklings, "lamb-
aer," 116; winterfold for
the grown-up hardy wethers,
Ship, 2 7 ; merchant ship, ship
of burden, "knorr," 75, 79,
96, 97, 118, 127; laid up
for the winter, 130 ; boat,
"batr," 14, 15, 33, 52; six-
oared boat, " sexaerr batr,"
The Saga Library.
31 ; boat-house, "hurSa-
naust," 34, 35, 38 ; running
out a boat, 52 ; cutter,
"skiita,"27, 34, 38, 41, 5 2 < 535
ship's lading, cargo, "ahofn,"
75 ; carried on back of 120
horses, 129. (If each horse
carried 200 Ibs. weight,
which is not heavy for a
short journey, then Master
Erne's cargo would have
weighed 24,000 Ibs., or,
roughly speaking, eleven
tons. This is a gauge of the
burden of his ship which,
probably, is not very far
from the truth.)
Silver, " silfr," 96; the legal
tender, 134; the best that
might be, 102 ; evil silver,
"uvandatf fe," 113; thir-
teen ounces of silver, 113,
Slaves : thrall, "J>raell," 38, 56,
Slips or ship runners, 34, 36.
Stallions, " stoft-hross," 150.
Stone : to set one's foot on a
stone in pronouncing a
solemn vow, 152 (cf. 190-
Summon (for legal business),
" kveSja," " stefna," 13, 95,
140, 141, 153.
Surety, no, 132.
Swimming feats, n, 35, 36,
Take hands, " takast i
hendr," to avow consent,
Tenants made to pay their
rents in hay when hay crops
Tent, used by the daughter of
the house as a summer-
Thing, a hallowed legal as-
sembly, i. Althing, 22,
63, 64, 115 ; riding to the
Althing, 13, 20, 56, 57, 58,
79, 96, 97; with 300 men,
57, 156; riding from the
Althing, 95, 117; peace of
the Althing guarded by force,
155, 156; secured by public
proclamation, 156. 2. Var-
ying, spring court, at Thing-
ness, 153 ; a criminal case,
there defeated by force, laid
to the Althing, 154. 3.
Leet, "lei," hallowed by
a deputy Gofti, 80, 82 ;
priesthood in commission to
be restored to the Gofti at
Leets or Things, 81.
Thingman, " Jnngma'Sr," a
Gobi's liegeman, 24, 73, 77,
Trading abroad, 75.
Transport of goods along the
coasts, 75, 76; transport
ship, ferry, 75.
Treatment of prisoners : shav-
ing their hair, 62 ; polling
them, "gora )>eim koll,"
62 ; cut off their ears, 62.
Trolls = fiends, "troll," 115.
Viking cruise, " hernaftr," 67.
Vixen, " refkeila," 59.
Vows, 152 (cf. 190-193).
Wadmal, homespun, an ell of
which formed the standard
of currency in all commer-
cial transactions, 74.
Wainload, "hlass," 161.
Warflame, " Gunnlogi," name
of Thorbiorn's sword, 14, 1 6,
33, 35, 37, 3 8 -
Water-hatches, "stiflur," 46.
Water-meadow, " veitiengi,"
Weapons (cf. Poetical peri-
phrases) hung up in sleeping
places, 40, 57 ; carried on
the person on leaving the
house, 146. Weapons of
attack: arrow, 141; axe,
"ox," 6, 8, 14, 1 6, 17, 33,
36, 82 ; hand-axe, 47 ; pole-
axe, 47 ; bo!t, " kdlfr," 60;
bow, "bogi," 141, 161 ;
glave, "skalm," 120; sax,
120; spear, "spjot,"3i, 35,
39; sword, "sver^," 10, 60,
61,62,147. Weapons of de-
fence : byrny, coat of mail,
" brynja," 31, 44, 60 ; helm,
"hjalmr," 31, 35, 44]; shield,
"skjoldr," 35, 114, 157;
Wedding, bridal, feast, "rsttS,"
13, 117, 118, 151, 152, 163.
Weregild, mangild, atone-
ment, manfine, 19, 25, 63,
64 ; for a thrall, 149.
Whale, " hvalr," driven ashore,
9 ; whale-ribs used for ship
rollers or slips, 34, 36.
Whistling, a sign for people
lying in ambush, 158.
Wind blowing one way in
shore, another out in the
open, 1 1 8.
Winter-fold (see under Sheep) .
Withershins, to go, an act
of magic significance, 144.
Wizard dealing in spells, 58,
61 (cf. 143).
Woman. A married woman's
right over the goods of the
house, 53 ; woman wedded
to a man for his wealth's
sake, 5 1 ; woman betroths
herself on her nearest of
kin refusing to do so,
Woo, wooing, wooer, 13, 80,
104,105, 147,148, 150,160;
private wooing looked upon
with disfavour, 159, 160.
Wood, "skdgr," 142, 157.
CHISWICK PRESS : C. WHITTINGHAM AND CO., TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE.
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